We had a swing set at the house where I grew up.  I guess it could be better described as a play complex b/c in addition to swings, it had a slide, some monkey bars, and swings.  That was high brow back then; nobody had the mini-amusement parks that kids get now-a-days.

But it was great and it was enough.

I loved those things and remember loving them.  I’d twist, turn, flip. I mean, I had to have had the abs of a body builder!  Days and weeks I spent on those things, having all the thrills I could stand…and never having to let go.

That’s the thing about monkey bars – they’re designed so that you can safely move to the next one without ever having to let go of the last.  And that’s great, I mean, every kid should learn the thrill of swinging and flipped within a structure safe enough to learn.

But at some point, if we’re ever going to live fully alive and free, we’ve got to start learning the trapeze.  They call them artists, which I always found amusing.  Shouldn’t they be called crazies? You willingly let go of a sure thing that will absolutely take you safely back to solid ground (or solid pedestal) in order to propel yourself through the air in hopes that someone else or something else will land in your hands at exactly the right moment.

is that not crazy?

is that not life? or at least, a life well-lived?

Maybe life can be lived on the monkey bars, but that’s not one I want to live.  I have seen some cool monkey bar performances, but I’ve never been captivated by one.  In the same way, I’ve seen risk-less lives that are well-lived and worthy of respect, but I’ve never stood up and cheered one.  So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to succeed at the art of trapeze.

– you’ve got to learn to let go and focus on finding the next bar.  i.e. learn the art of recognizing seasons and grieving them

– you’ve got to learn wisdom. I can’t think of another place where quickly being able to understand how cause and effect are connected is more important.  In a nano-second, you have to analyze a million inputs – it takes time to study possibilities and capabilities.

– you’ve got to be disciplined.  Nobody who hasn’t trained on the ground can fly.  And trapeze artists certainly don’t swing all day.  They capture our hearts and attention at their best moments – but if we were to see their workouts, their practices, their bad days – would we be fascinated? But we all know that’s what makes them great.

– you’ve got to learn trust.  There’s either someone swinging you a bar or someone attached to the bar with hands extended looking to grab yours.  nobody can trapeze on their own, so you have to choose a partner well and trust them every single time.

– you’ve got to learn faith.  I sort of wonder what trapeze artists think mid-air.  Sure, there is a net, but I doubt they are thinking about the net, about whether or not it will be there if they fall.  I imagine they’d never be able to climb the ladder, let alone let go of the bar, and definitely not flip and fly if they hadn’t absolutely determined they are going to be safe no matter what.  The net gives them permission to simple play in the air – to see what their bodies can do in concert with another without fear. I think Jesus is that kind of net (but that’s an entirely different conversation).

If you get the basics down, is life not then as boundless as your imagination?  You can flip and twist and turn to your heart’s desire? You can try to go higher, just to see what it’s like? What acrobatics can you accomplish?  It’s fun. It’s play. It’s freedom.

I want to live a spectacular life.  I want people to be inspired by it; to witness it and feel the wonder of art intersecting reality before their eyes…I want to be great at the trapeze.  I want to fly

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it’s been less than 24 hours since my beloved blackberry suffered some corrupt fatal file error and had to be sent off for a warranty exchange.  The folks at the phone store were great and gave me a loaner phone to use in the few days until the new one comes.  It’s not a blackberry.

as such, this represents the first time in probably 6 years that i haven’t had a blackberry within 10 feet of me.  i’m grateful i can still call and text those that are lucky enough to be in my SIM card (or perhaps that i’m lucky enough to have there) but no email, no internet, no note pad, none of the things i depend on it for.

email alone is a hurdle.  Three email addresses are routed to my phone, all of which represent completely different work streams.  Professional, personal, and school.  Negotiating between them almost requires a blackberry b/c more often than not it allows me to quickly mitigate issues or simply call the person who needs something.

so when i woke up this morning, with the little phone that’s just a phone in my bed (yes, i sleep w/ my phone. don’t judge me) I rolled over and instinctively grabbed it to check and deal with what the blackberry santa had brought while i slept, then of course, check twitter, check facebook, check some news I keep track of, oh, read that verse of the day…but nothing.  my simple little phone just had a text or two that were honestly not anything I even had to reply to.

for a second I thought “shouldn’t i feel disconnected?” before I realized I really didn’t.  I felt free.  And I’m not sure why, but I’m asking why b/c I like how this feels.

the 5%

May 14, 2010

I resigned on Tuesday.  My job was one of those soulless corporate gigs – investment banking to be exact.  I never once said growing up that I wanted to buy and sell banks for a living, but I fell into it after college – and the money was good – so onward I went.  Disingenous things have a funny way of wearing you down, as was the case with my work.  Little by little, I lost pieces of myself.  That is until Tuesday, when I finally mustered the courage to draw the line and walk away.

Life has shifted in an entirely new direction – away from what I’d planned it to be or thought it had to be – and it feels very good.

As most would, after the closest circle of family and friends were told, I posted the news on my Facebook.  I’m not sure I expected a response at all and if I did, I’m not sure what I expected people to say.  Within an hour, I was overwhelmed.  From people who I’ve loved & lost, to ones who simply sat next to me in class, to my closest advisors, to my random-see-at-parties friends; they spoke.  They offered words of encouragement, affirmation, support, enthusiasm.  They shared their stories of similar decisions, subseqent challenges, and enduring freedom.  They filled my heart and shaped my soul.

45 people commented, which I thought was staggering.  It is.  That’s forty-five people standing with me.  It wasn’t just the posts, it was the emails, tweets, texts, calls, BBMs…it seemed any way people could communicate they did.

When I considered the 45 comments on my facebook status, it occurred to me that meant 95% of my friend said nothing.  I know there are lots of people on facebook who don’t check or don’t comments – but that’s not what struck me.  The 5% taught me something

Asking connects us.  Asking for friends.  Asking for support.  Asking for advice.  Asking for a help.  I didn’t think I was asking for anything that day – but maybe I was.  And those people knew.  They knew the question beneath the statement was “will you still love me?” “Will you still love me if I am not smart, rich, powerful, funny, or talented?”  “If I change who you know me to be will you still love me?”  “If my decision leads to a big mess, will you stand by me?”  Maybe I needed the people in my life to step up and be there for me in a way I couldn’t be for myself.  I am not sure what I was asking that day, but I’m grateful for those that saw the more than “resigned…” and responded.

Asking connect us.

Perhaps you’ve asked before.  Perhaps you’ve found yourself at a place in life where you need to hear and feel love from the people in your world.  And maybe they said no.  Maybe they said your depression is just a phase and your loneliness will pass.  Maybe they offered empty words that were more polite than penetrating.

Keep asking.  My full heart and facebook experience taught me to keep asking.  Ask 20 people – 1 will hear you.  One will help you.  One will celebrate with you.  One will grab your hand and not let go until you realize your life has value and that you are here on purpose and for one.  You matter and maybe only 5% of the people can enter the moment where you doubt that the most – but 5% will.  So keep asking, keep talking, keep looking – you will find life, love, and freedom.

Before I left for China I spent an evening hanging out with one of my oldest friends and her ex-boyfriend.  It was the first time I had interacted with them since they had broken up and frankly, I was shocked.

Nothing had changed.

In fact, I’d say he was more attentive, caring, considerate, and in-tune to her than he was when they were dating.

Fast forward a few weeks.  We chatted the other day and I asked what the deal was.  She replied, “it’s the same as it was.  He’s my BFF with commitment issues and still treats me like a princess.  I don’t get it.”

I think I do.

You see, when we discussed their relationship before I went to China, she made the comment “I stopped sleeping with him, and I won’t.  He can’t have his cake and eat it too.”

Well, what if the sex isn’t the cake?

Women have long-held this notion to hold out sex because a man will, upon withholding, respond like a well-trained circus animal and furnish a ring.  “Why buy the cow…” our mothers’ fable warns us – so we hold back the proverbial milk.

But that’s a version of men that I won’t reduce myself to loving.

Sure men enjoy sex; but they also enjoy companionship & friendship with a woman, emotional intimacy where forever is covenantal, a home where they feel safe to shed their armor from the day’s battle and be loved by a lady who astutely chose him as ‘the one’.  They enjoy encouragement from us mysterious female types; something about them feeds off our respect.  Their strengths couple and compliment with ours – and it feels right and good.  And if they can get all of that without a tux and an open bar – why would they risk the vulnerability of asking for a commitment and seeing one through?

We’ve reduced the cake to sex.  We tell ourselves that’s all a man wants.  Don’t get me wrong, men like sex and it’s important – but to say that attraction & intimacy have nothing to do with what goes on outside the bedroom is a lie we’ve been told.

So by withholding sex and wondering why the circus isn’t performing says a lot about what we think of men; but, it also says a lot more about who we believe we are and what we believe we are worth.

It made me sad for my friend and sad for all the times I’ve done the same thing.  I practically invented using sex as a way to manipulate guys; but I don’t now.  Do I have a boyfriend, no.  But, do I waste my time an energy on someone unworthy of it, that’s happily a “no” as well.  I’ve come to realize that my passion, ambition, intellect, humor, loyalty, friendship, encouragement, & love are what make me worth engaging.  That’s the stuff that should be withheld from the men who won’t give me the respect of a commitment.

I am the cake.