For all the longing, crying even, for a fresh new direction in life, the first step is always the one that trips people up….”You have to exhale to inhale.”
If we stay where we are, holding tenaciously, or weakly even, to the old, all we end up doing is tweaking what we already have, we never actually venture out in to a new reality.
This is what separates people. Few can fully pull themselves away, leaving the familiar to risk encountering the unfamiliar. It’s safer not to, because opening that can of worms can ………….
For almost a decade I fell in to “a something”; something very unsatisfying and draining to my soul. A routine so stifling, so numbing, that almost all of the encounters of my thirties are a lost memory. I recall little from that time period. It was not a period of depression, nothing of the sort.
We returned “home” to Canada, and landed in an institutional life routine that was draining to my mind, soul, and body. To them, “it’s just you”. No matter, I had to leave it behind to stay alive. But leaving that kind of stuff behind brings criticism from those who live in that sphere and think all respectable people should be in there.
A gentleman once said to me, “You have to exhale to inhale.” Simple fact of life, if we are full of dead air, we can’t simply try to shove more air in to your life. You have to let all the old air out first, to make room for the new fresh air.
Brilliant! “You have to exhale to inhale.”
Do we really understand this? No! Rather, we continue to add more and more stuff to the equation, we try to fine tune, tweak this or that about the old air, instead of just exhaling and starting again, fresh.
I think we all get to a place where we have tweaked all we can for decades, and it worked, well a little, anyway. Then one day, as life stares us in the face, we realize that this time, I have to make room for better things, desires, priorities and the old…..well, needs to be exhaled. No more tweaking, a deep breath out….. then a new breath in.
Returning to work in Mali, West Africa, was for me, part of that fresh invigorating inhale, after that LONG REQUIRED exhale.
Read this Quote, a Catholic Priest speaking about his spiritual odyssey. He hit a a cord.
“The very first sign of a potential hero’s journey is that he or she must leave home, the familiar, which is something that may not always occur to someone in the first half of life. (In fact, many people have not left home by their thirties today, and most never leave the familiar at all!) If you have spent many years building your particular tower of success and self-importance —your personal “salvation project” as Thomas Merton called it—or have successfully constructed your own superior ethnic group, religion, or “house” you won’t want to leave it. (Now that many people have second, third, and fourth houses, it makes me wonder how they can ever leave home.) Once you can get “out of the house” your “castle” and comfort zone, much of the journey has a life—and death—of its own.
The crucial thing is to get out and about, and into the real and bigger issues.
In fact, this was the basic plotline of the founding myth that created the three monotheistic religions, with Yahweh’s words to Abraham and Sarah: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s house, for the new land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1), We seem to have an amazing capacity for missing the major point—and our own necessary starting point along with it. We have rather totally turned around our very founding myth! No wonder religion is in trouble.” (Richard Rohr. Falling Upward)