Courage in the face of Fear.

Fresh Air. The Black Glacier, on my Norway visit this year. (See below!)

Here in the UK we have been suffering an epidemic of fear. Fear is being promoted at every corner: stripes on the pavement, notices on shop windows, security staff on doors, cardboard cups, taped barriers, random warnings, cancelled appointments and half-seen faces. Here where I live we’ve even got roads closed and entire lanes dedicated to two or three cyclists an hour. The rationale for all these has been lost in the melee as the majority of the population bows to those who love having unlimited power to control us. Their tool for this is fear. Fear of a virus that is 1000 times smaller than the pores in the finest fabrics we are advised to use in an attempt to protect ourselves.

I’ve not seen ANY promotion of courage, have you?

Fear is not always a bad thing of course. I have a profound fear of being trapped – it’s called claustrophobia – and I’m glad I do. It is not an illness, it is a wisdom-based emotional condition. It means I take action to avoid being trapped, in my case not just by physical things like caves and other small physical spaces from which exit is difficult or impossible, but by non-physical things like the outworking of psychological concepts, some religious beliefs, and a variety of socio-cultural expectations and pressures – from which exit is also difficult or impossible. I have no intention of allowing myself to be trapped by these things, including fear, and I suggest you might like to take that precaution too!

So stay open. Stay curious. Keep asking questions of those who think they know. Even awkward ones. Read way beyond the controlled mainstream media, poke your way beyond the emotive lines dished out by politicians, ‘scientists’ and so called experts – lines designed to make and keep people compliant. Ask yourself about how those people are funded, who they owe allegiance to, what would they lose if they were to answer honestly the questions they are asked. Don’t believe someone who says they are trying to keep you safe. They have other personal agendas that are a far far higher priority to them than your health and safety.

So how about some of the things I’m learning? Here are some of my personal headlines:

  • God has given you an amazing immune system. Look after it!

You can do that by making sure you eat good wholesome fresh food, and get outside a lot. One of the worst things you can do is stay indoors all the time. Fresh air has lots of oxygen in it, and you need oxygen to build your body’s natural protections. Did you know that the current culprit we’re all so concerned about is completely destroyed by 2 or 3 minutes in bright sunlight?

Don’t be afraid to hug people either. Your immune system needs to be kept active by lots of different ‘small threats’ (from the environment and contact with other people) so that it is well programmed to recognise what is and what is not ‘you’, and it then labels and kills off. That’s what the famous T-cells do!

The chances of sufficient viral ‘load’ being transmitted to you in the contact time it takes to hug your friend (sufficient ‘load’ to overwhelm your immune system and make you seriously ill) is so infinitesimally small you are more likely to die from a heart attack while you wait for it to take effect! It takes quite a time for there to be sufficient ‘load’ to hurt you. It is also interesting that people who don’t have symptoms of illness aren’t ill enough to give you anything serious!

  • Avoid anything that restricts your natural breathing process.

ANY restriction to your airways reduces that essential oxygen you are designed to breath. It also means you will be re-breathing carbon dioxide – not a good idea. The effects of unnatural levels of carbon dioxide on the body may include headaches, dizziness, restlessness, a tingling or pins or needles feeling, difficulty breathing, sweating, tiredness, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, coma, asphyxia, and even convulsions. Not good then! It’s the reason we breath it out, and need to do so in an unconstricted fashion.

  • If you’re ill, stay at home. You know what the signs are.

Whether you have a cold, flu or anything else, don’t share it around. Stay at home, take some paracetamol, and sit by a nice warm fire.

Trust your immune system to deal with it. See above! And don’t think for a moment that someone sticking a needle into your arm is going to prevent you getting any particular illness. Such action might actually give you an illness, as many contain live animal content – some contain live unstable human fetal material. Ask yourself: do I really want that in my bloodstream? Think about it.

  • Avoid high or long levels of stress.

This is a pretty good principle for most of our lives anyway. I love the 80% rule here. Each of us needs to leave an extra 20% of our energy, time and even money for those moments of crisis we inevitably face in normal living. Sustained stress profoundly undermines your Immune System, so being afraid, anxious, worrying, not sleeping well or being able to relax – and burying these things – lowers your resistance to disease. (Dis -Ease. Hmmm. Might be a connection!) Of course short bursts of moderate ‘stress’ can be healthy – – even relaxing! (I’ve a client who relaxes by extreme rock climbing! You ought to see his arm muscles…) High levels of stress, or even moderate levels sustained for long, is NOT good. Cancer, heart attack, and multiple other health problems are associated with stress. People who constantly try to give 100% or more end up burnt out or attempting to make up the deficit in other ways. Such emotional stress-debt can actually kill you.

Prepare for Action

Have you noticed that the classic reactions to fear – the ‘Four Fs’ are Fight, Flee, Faint, Freeze – are known panic reactions and INCREASE your sense of vulnerability? I like to think that PA (my shorthand for Panic Attack) has a better meaning: Prepare for Action. You and I are currently being bombarded with fear-inducing, unhealthy statements about the future from people who should know better. So prepare for action. Choose to live with courage yourself. Reject fear-based projections and ‘warnings’ (any comments about what ‘is going to happen in the future’ is pure speculation – haven’t we had enough of that nonsense?) and choose to live EN-couraging others to do the same.

Lost. Hmmm…

I love getting lost.

For Sue it is a bit scary. For me it is the beginning of another adventure.  In Madrid last week I got lost several times, and I deliberately refused to take my iPhone out and switch on Location Services.  Who wants to be that independent when it is so much more rewarding to walk up to the nearest person and say “Excuse me, do you speak English?  I’m lost!”?  Inevitably they seem to say “A little bit. How can I help?”

We need each other.

You may not have noticed how bikers nod to each other riding along the roads.  (In France, they put their foot out to the side, or drop their hand from the handlebars.) If you get stuck, and look in distress, In Europe most will stop to help.  We are on the road for each other.  Bikers are one group of people who travel the roads for the fun of it.  Few car drivers do these days.  Satnav is great, but it is much more engaging to ask for help.

Found again.

I am sitting here typing, so clearly, getting lost has never been fatal or even injurious.  I’ve even put on the numberplate of my camper “Lost.  In wonder, love and praise.” For me, losing myself in the astounding beauty of the mountains, forests and coasts of Europe (I don’t mean off-road, though I do that sometimes too) seems to inspire worship of the Creator. I’m part of it all, as he is.

And so are you.  So get lost in it!

Pic: Snow on the Pyrenees from the plane.

The Hidden Valley.

Out in the Sticks

This picture is of a hidden valley in the South Downs National Park.  The truth is, you are unlikely to find it unless you go up to almost the top, down the track to the left, then down into the next valley, sharp right along the valley floor … yes, you’ve guessed it:  I’m not going to tell you where it is. But last week my beloved brother Gerald was working there, clearing out the rubbish with his forestry equipment.  Gorse, brambles, scrub soon overtake the grassland, and his job is to open up the pathways again, and give the grass a chance to regrow.  What he did last year looks absolutely lovely now.  This will look great in a year. (All overseen by the appropriate countryside ranger, you understand.)

So I joined him for 24 hours, watching the fire into the night, him sleeping in his  stunning handmade traditional living van, and me in my trusty VW T4 camper.  A fry-up. Mugs of hot tea. Rich mutually encouraging conversation – not least about coaching!  Gerald is one of my closest friends, and I guess we’ll always be there for each other. It got me thinking.

Sometimes we fail to notice how the rubbish of our lives, the clutter of our homes, has gained ground. Sometimes it is only when a radical change like moving house forces us to really see it that we take action. And occasionally that can overwhelm us, we don’t know what to do or where to start.  But the longer we leave it, the worse it gets.  The thicker the scrub grows.  The more ‘no-go areas’ develop. You ought to see my workshop!  No, forget I said that!

If that’s you, the sooner you start the better.  It takes honesty to face up to the need, but you’re the sort of person who can start, aren’t you? And if you need some encouragement, just let me know.  I’ll help.

I’m not quite sure how I got my two-wheel-drive camper down there in the first place, and getting it out of the uphill deep-rutted tracks was a bit of a skill I thought I’d lost, but I made it home (with the overgrown rubbish sorted).

So will you.

Inevitable Success – the reason I coach.

snapndrag182

“What is success?” the man leading the seminar asked brightly, wanting some audience participation. I put up my hand, and along with several other participants, gave my answer. “The inevitable result of being human.”  I knew it wouldn’t be regarded as a normal answer, but I want success now, a lot  –  and I want to use today’s successes as a springboard to more rewarding ones – and not just my own successes. My definition guarantees me success every day, and makes me aware of how natural success is for us all.

Success is inevitable.

You cannot help but achieve your deepest goals. Without knowing it, you succeed. Look close enough and you’ll find you’re a success.  Every day. Pretty much all the time!  

Here are some of my successes (though not in chronological order!)  Waking up.  Talking to my family. Cuddling my children and grandchildren. Breathing. Doing my emails. Writing this blog. Cooking breakfast. Laughing at a TV programme. Doing some reading. Having a bath. Walking. In fact I’ve succeeded so many times today it is so normal to succeed that I’m completely unaware of how much of a success I am.

However, your deepest goals may not be so obvious. You might be missing them. Even embarrassed by them.

Less obvious success…

Here are some successes that people have that they may not want to own up to:  

  • Backing off. Being successful at making sure they don’t need courage.
  • Avoiding potential pain by staying within safe, risk-free limits.
  • Never experiencing rejection (by not putting themselves in a relationship where that could happen, or by making sure they themselves do the rejecting first.) 
  • Staying an emotional child. (There are plenty of people out there looking to mother the emotionally needy.)

Perhaps you’ve successfully taken whatever decisions you need to make absolutely sure you never stand out in the crowd. Solution: keep your head down and your mouth shut.

It is easy to make sure you never fail an exam. Simply never take one. Success!  

You need never fear mockery.  Never ever come up with anything original.

You need never fear being made redundant or getting the sack. Simple: resign at the earliest opportunity, or don’t take the job in the first place! 

But of course, such dubious success is linked to other dubious successes – successfully avoiding responsibility for your life and future for example.  And that means other people will begin to take over what you could contribute, and you will become poorer, more isolated, more vulnerable and more depleted. Some successes can produce unwelcome results.

What do you WANT to want?

Time to dig deeper. (As you know, I don’t do shallow.)  

Do you REALLY want what you’re getting out of life at the moment? What do you WANT to want? What WELCOME outcomes?

What are you prepared to go for, to sacrifice for (everything in life has a price), in order to get an outcome you’ll be PROUD OF?  

What is the next step for you?

From the day I stepped out from behind my mummy’s skirts to do something on my own, fear and courage have fought for supremacy. As I stepped out, eventually courage won.

My job is to make sure all these years later that courage continues to win, not just for me, but for you too.  

YOU are the reason I choose to coach.    Here are some others. 

 

 

 

Courage Always Triumphs.

SnapnDrag153
David Cameron reads the Gospel at the Queen’s 90th Birthday Thanksgiving Service.

So here we are in a post-referendum world. Of the 7000 million people on the planet, just a comparative handful of ‘little people’ on a little island off the coast of Europe have spoken with their hearts, and made a difference. Little people, each with just one vote. It’s called democracy.  Their courage changed the course of history. Things will never be the same again.

Courage always triumphs.

People who choose a life filled with courage will always win in the end. Over these last weeks, onslaught after onslaught of terrifying predictions were thrown at these courageous ones, and they STILL voted “No” to fear. The direst consequences, financial ruin, the inability to feed your kids, poverty in old age, the elites of pretty much anywhere did their very best to intimidate, rubbish, persuade and bully, but in those few quiet safe and sacred moments in the sanctity of a polling booth in our little Sussex village I ticked the Leave box, joined my heart with the risk-takers, and voted for a better – and quite possibly a more prosperous world.

Of course, we’ll never know what might have been, because no one can predict the future. Every decision you and I make is irreversible, so alternatives at that time and place no longer exist. There is only one life, and we are all living it.

Big Mistake. Huge.

Julia Roberts' famous Big Mistake Moment in the classic film "Pretty Woman"
Julia Roberts’ famous Big Mistake Moment in the classic film “Pretty Woman”

Just two weeks before the Brexit vote David Cameron publicly read these words of Jesus to a fearful world. “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after.”  He listened to another David, David Attenborough, read the words of poet Minnie Louise Haskins reminding him that going out into the darkness with his hand in God’s hand is “better than a light and safer than a known way.” In the vote of his and our lifetime, he chose away from a life of faith to lead us with a message of fear.  As Julia Roberts famously said in Pretty Woman when she had been treated as ‘trash off the street’ by an elite clothing store, “Big mistake. Huge.”

It cost David Cameron his career, and us a very good Prime Minister.  Let’s not make the same mistake ourselves.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

Minnie Louise Haskins

 

Another reason for voting Leave: Big isn’t Better.

SnapnDrag108

 

In today’s world it is not size but flexibility that matters.

Big does not equal better. The greatest success stories in the animal kingdom are not huge elephants and rhinos, but ants. Billions and billions of them, in multiple self-sustaining colonies, underground, chattering away, getting on with the work of looking after each other and forming what is now believed to be a global network.

Today’s most successful wars are not won with nuclear bombs.  They are won with IEDs, Kalashnikovs, an empowering vision, and inspiring words. Small things. Lots and lots of them.

Big things are vulnerable and are easily crippled. “A bee can bite the bottom of the Pope in Rome” (Les Miserables”).  An easy target. Billions of small things are difficult to get rid of, as anyone who has had an infection knows only too well.

So how does this reflect on the Brexit campaign? 

The EU is focused on more and more centralisation and regulation, with fewer and fewer people making the crucial decisions. Common this, and common that. Fewer decision-makers mean slower decisions – and less time to make them so the quality becomes compromised. In today’s world that is bad news. The problem is not size in itself.  It is speed. Big things take a long time to get going, buy-in from all the parties takes close to eternity, and once they are on the move they are very difficult to stop – or even redirect.  And almost impossible to reverse.  Eventually they stop.  (See image above.)

In this world of exploding chaos and complexity, where centralised decision-making cripples progress, the world’s key decision-makers are those at the edge, ‘little people’ facing the immediate local situation who can switch twice in a day, adjusting to what they find.  And the best leaders are those who understand that principle, training those people, educating them, inspiring them … and then giving leadership-power away to them, empowering them to decide ‘there and then’ at the point of need, equipped with the knowledge they need. It is immediate connectivity and flexibility that are key in this context. The delivery driver on his mobile phone in his little white van phoning the customer, the school teacher in the classroom dealing immediately with the behaviour of a student, the bobby on the beat sorting an argument, the child deciding on what to have for breakfast.

SnapnDrag109

Think ant not articulated truck. When faced with a challenge, ants get into a little community group and sort out the problem, attacking, defending, and even dying when necessary. (They are typically called ‘worker’ ants.  I like that!) When the problem is solved, they go back to their work until needed again.  They will go to incredible lengths to support each other, sacrifice, and work.  The one in this pic is carrying a seed many times its weight and size.

And it all happens in seconds and minutes, not months and years. Quick, efficient, local decision-making by those affected by the decision sorting the problem out together. Collaboratively.  Without a formal structure.

So the predictions for the EU are speculated upon for the next 15 years. “It will be like this in 2030.”  One thing is sure.  Every prediction will be wrong, whoever makes it. Remember 15 years ago? It was the everyday people, filled with vision and purpose, who decided that for them there was no box to think out of. Like the bumble bee that is technically unable to fly because of it’s weight and wing area, they just get on and do it.

When I see the EU voting for the development of smaller government, disbanding important parts of itself (especially those that currently meddle uninvited in the detail of human community), distributing decision-making power to the edge, promoting freedom, encouraging diversity and speed by building connectivity (roads, airports, internet access), maybe it will get my vote.

I’m not holding my breath.  Today it seems to me to be more of a big overloaded truck stuck in a narrow lane, shouting at us about how we cannot do without it because it’s going places, yet blocking the way for the farmer, mother and deliveryman queued up behind, trying to get on with real life.

Meanwhile the flexible little ants quietly march past, over, under and round it, vote it off the job and get on with the work of living.

Those who want the EU are welcome to it. I’m voting ‘ant’.

 

Willing Surrender, Part 1.

What it isn’t, and what it may be for you.

Surrender? For some it is a dirty word, implying weakness, fear, or lack of endurance. However, depending on the context, willing surrender has huge power. I’d like to re-write the word ‘Surrender’ for you. I believe it will profoundly transform your life.

handing over a key

Surrender is not capitulation to fate, chance or luck, but a willing handing over of something to another. For some, that is about re-trusting their inner selves, about allowing that deep sense of intuition, that gut feeling, space to respond. It is a million miles away from throwing your hands in the air and giving up. For others, it is releasing (or re-releasing) your life or a situation to a higher power – God, perhaps.

Surrender isn’t evidence of a lack of resilience but rather the opposite. This sort of surrender is evidence of courage. Deliberately opening your clenched fist and letting go of the rope isn’t anything like the same as giving up. In the process you overcome fear of NOT letting go. The first is characterised by willingly accepting the consequences of making a courageous decision (to deliberately decide not to interfere with the ‘natural’ process of events takes a lot of courage and self control). It is characterised by a ‘faith choice’ that, as you let this dream die, another dream or pathway – a richer fuller better one will be revealed.

One key reason for the absence of depth in the life of many human beings is the absence of surrender. Depth often comes from slowing ‘forward’ progress, so that our energies are refocused in a different direction: Downward.

Like a pebble flung across the surface of the water we can keep afloat by spinning round and round and going ‘fast forward’, skating over the water. Hydroplaning. However this is not the way to discovering depth. Depth is revealed when we stop.

ducks and drakes spinning a pebble

Some of us are terrified at the thought of stopping. We fear we will discover our own shallowness when we commit to testing for depth, that, all too soon, ‘going deeper’ will end in us discovering what we are not. We also suspect that we will find a significant amount of mud, unwanted rubbish (plus a shipwreck or two) below the surface. We become concerned that we will be embarrassed by the rubbish as it is seen for what it is. That may well be true. We may well be. But until we are serious about facing the less obvious realities we will continue to forfeit the sheer joy and relief of deep, secure, and comparatively unassailable lives.

Ready to willingly surrender? Maybe we’ll come back to this in another blog and ask what, how, and to whom. In the meantime, you could record a little of what you know about willing surrender in the comment box below.

Posh or Poor? Reactions please!

IMG_1512

I’m writing this in the humble little’ Cafe Roma’, opposite the grand main entrance to The Royal Marsden Hospital in South Kensington, London. (I’m looking after my sister who is recovering across the road from a nasty cancer operation.) ‘South Ken’ one of the poshest areas of London. Two weeks ago I was riding my motorbike in the Balkans, one of the poorest areas of Europe. It’s been a bit of a culture shock.

In Bosnia my three course dinner, coffee, two carafes of wine, ensuite double room, secure parking and breakfast cost £20. Here a carafe of wine will cost that – forget the dinner, the bed and the breakfast. Secure parking? You wish.

In the Balkans I needed a new tyre for my well-worn motorbike. “Follow me!” the man said, and generously led me 30 miles to a different country – literally! – to get me to the right supplier, and gave me an engraved lighter as a goodbye present. That won’t happen here in ‘South Ken’. (Old motorbike? This is stunning sports car and black limo country. Blacked out, exclusive, custom-built £200,000 limos, Range Rovers and Ferraris abound. The main Lamborghini dealership is just up the road.)

In Albania ‘poor’ is normal, yet people don’t think of themselves as poor. Just normal. I did see one reference to the poor in South Kensington: “Don’t give them money” the poster warned, “they will use it to kill themselves with drugs and alcohol.” So giving becomes murder. Hmmm.

Clothes? Every possible fashion house is here, from Stella McCartney and Prada to Versace and YSL, with a pair of jeans costing … 550. Pounds, that is. (850€). In Montenegro it is likely to be 550 too. £5.50. 100 times less.

My new friend in Serbia earns in a day about the same as the basic wage in the UK for an hour, yet he STILL gave me a gift to take back to Britain worth a day’s wages for him.

I saw a three bedroom apartment advertised for rental today. £2,800 (4,000€) a week. A WEEK! A year’s wages just 1500 kilometres south of here.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta said “The more you have, the less you can give.”  (Jesus Christ pointed out a little lady who gave a tiny coin. “It is all she has,” he said. When it comes to generosity, it’s what you have left after you’ve given that seems to be the measure.)

How comfortable in your skin are you? What does rich mean? Are you rich?

Brighter … greener … bluer… ??

IMG_1255
Ready for take off. There are 12 people in that basket!

Jenny (not her real name) came out of her second session recently describing what she felt like as she came out of her first. “It was as if the whole world was brighter. The colours were brighter, the greens greener, the sky bluer.”   That’s a key motivator in my coaching. I can turn the light on for my clients – and giving others a brighter future is a JOY. 

This week I’ve had several life-brightening comments like that – two from people who I coached over fifteen years ago. Fifteen years!  And they BOTH called this week, with real, deep, kind, oh-so-rewarding things to say. Completely out of the blue.

I stopped to think of how much they would have missed if they had not connected up.  They both have children in their teens and twenties now, whose lives also are brighter (greener, bluer?) because these two men – their dads – chose to take action on the tough challenges they were facing.

Although it is impossible to guarantee results from coaching (no coach can do that) the long-term effect can be massive. The whole world can come alive in a way you have not noticed before. It is like hitting the Enhance button on your photo app, only to realise what you now see is how life actually is, the real deal, not an ‘enhanced’ version at all. It is just that yesterday was duller, a faded (tarnished, darker) version of how life is, and you hadn’t noticed.

Or perhaps you have.  You’ve known a time when you were happier than you are now.  You suspect there are dark shadows in your life that you want to get rid of.

And if I’ve coached you in the past, and you’ve not been in touch for a while, I’d love to know what happened and what you’re doing now.  Sharing your joys with others multiplies them.

Either way, call me on my mobile 07771631945 (or email me a few lines at andrew@powerchange.com) and multiply the benefit for both our lives.  I’m itching to hear what happened to you.

Davey’s Redemption

Davey was frightened. He had made all sorts of mistakes in life, and now it had come to this, he thought to himself as he gazed fixedly into the putrid black water.

IMGA0060Thinking all the usual thoughts  that people think in Davey’s position – he was practiced at them by now – he contemplated the ordinary bleakness of the future and what he might do next. After all the comings and goings of the last few months, he was low. Very low.

One thing was for sure, he had no more ideas.  His energies for life were all used up on the efforts he had made throughout his life’s journey and, here, in this decade of his life, he had finally come to a standstill. He had run out. In more ways than one. 

The black water looked menacing and cold. It flowed slowly and silently round and round, yet if he stopped to listen he could hear it’s siren song calling him towards its clammy waters. It was all he could do to resist the water’s damning message.

Yet the stranger had definitely said that it was possible for good things to come out of bad, or even to actively turn bad things into good. “There is always a way” he had said, if you are patient and reach for it.

In despair and the deepest disappoint in himself he had ever known, Davey had finally given up the fight, declaring himself hopeless and the stranger’s words deceptive rubbish. The guy clearly had no idea of how bad bad can be. Bad things into good things? That could only be a platitude. There was no way forward from here. Yet the stranger had said that one day he would find out for himself.

Davey reviewed his life for a few moments.  Had he not become a respected scientist? Was he not indeed a competent entrepreneur? So how had it come to this? He had the finest of university educations and been taught by world class professors. He had a caring family, who even now we’re grieving for him in his sadness.

He felt overwhelmed by self pity. As he stared into the black sludgy polluted water he felt hopeless seep through his clothes and into his heart. Good out of bad?  This bad?  It was all a meaningless cruel joke, and now he would indeed take the next step that would… that would … that … would…

He stopped. A flash of moonlight on something in the water caught his attention. Swirling innocently in the incessant gurgling flow was a little glass bottle complete with its stopper.

In some strange way, it floated clean and sparkling on the surface of the blackness.  He felt it was waiting for him, a last chance perhaps, and he knew without doubt he must have it.

It was a long way down to the waters edge, but something in Davey’s heart came alive sufficiently to prompt him to action.  Stepping back for a moment from his precarious position (and his self pity) he climbed down to the bank of the putrid pool and reached out. He would need to reach out much further than what was safe for him to rescue the bottle (and maybe himself) from the fate that called them both, but driven by his sudden inexplicable change of mood, he was determined. That little fragile bottle might change his life he thought irrationally. Perhaps it already had. He must have it at all costs.

He reached out, accepting the risks of his new passion, no longer afraid, no longer obsessing about his failings and fortunes, risking being carried away, or sucked into the sludge.

No, it was beyond him. It was out of reach, but for the first time in his life he threw aside his inhibitions and looked around for help.

That was when he saw the stranger just a few yards away who had been quietly watching his efforts all the while, and seemed to read his mind. Unselfconsciously he asked, “Can you help me please? I need that bottle.” The stranger stepped forward and anchoring himself into the bank, grasped Davey’s outstretched hand. 

Trusting his weight to this Kind Stranger made the difference.  Davey felt the bottle at his finger tips, and with one last stretch, grasped it firmly in his hand. It was his. Looking up he saw, in the moonlight, a glimpse of a smile on the stranger’s shadowed face.

Davey sat for several minutes, still and quiet at the water’s edge, reliving the last few minutes of what had seemed an impossibly challenging day (and the last few years of what felt like an impossibly challenging life.)  He took a deep breath, and as he exhaled said to himself, “This moment is a turning point for me.  I know it. Life will never be the same again.”

For the first time, in a single moment he had reached out for help, and it was as if all the struggles to achieve, all his efforts to be accepted and loved, all the disappointment and inadequacy no longer mattered.

The magic words had been “help me” and he knew it. He had never asked so blatantly for help before. He had always tried to make it on his own, brought up with the expectation that he should be independent, self sufficient, stand on his own two feet and manage his own affairs.

The very walls he had built to keep himself safe had imprisoned him.  He felt a deep sense of love filtering its way into the rocky caverns of his heart; a strange lightness beaming it’s mellow rays into its grey shadows.

And the little glass bottle was here in his hand, rescued from the very waters that he, just a few minutes before … He preferred not to think about that.

It was many years later he told me this story. He was now a wealthy man, with a loving family around him. Things had turned out well.  Reaching into his coat, he drew out the little glass bottle, complete with its stopper…

…and a crumpled, stained, scrap of paper.

“This is what was in the bottle” he said, passing it to me. “I just accepted what it says, and that has made all the difference”.

I smoothed out the paper and felt my own heart leap. There on the paper were the very words I had so longed to hear as a child – and actually through all these demanding and challenging years of life.  As I read them over and over, I could feel them washing me too, cleansing and healing me to the very core.

And I accepted them.

And that has made all the difference.

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)