Waiting For Aslan to Move

What do you do when you are hopeless, in the deepest of slumps. Help is immanent, but it’s not here yet and you can’t bear it any longer?

It feels like darn near everything is going the way of the buffalo.¬†That’s extinction, if you haven’t guessed. I feel like a broken record saying this, because it seems slumps are a regular part of my life and I haven’t been silent about this.

Running is bad right now.

Today was another in a series of crap runs. I stopped at about two miles in and cried. I don’t know why. I just did. It’s a girl’s prerogative to cry whenever she darn well pleases.

Money sucks right now.

Due to issues with the tax man, I’ve been waiting on my return for three months now. Government efficiency and all that. Meanwhile, I, the dreamer of big dreams and the lover of new clothes, have run furiously on the treadmill of my finances, living in hope of that big cheque coming in the mail. It’s become a schtick of sorts. I text my sister as soon as she’s home for lunch.

“Did anything come in the mail?”

“Nuthin'”

“Darn them!”

Wednesday night, after the cheque didn’t come and I aborted my 13 mile run at 9 miles due to persistent hip and knee pain, I cried in the shower.

Girl’s prerogative, to cry when she darn well pleases.

Those two big issues seem to drag everything else down too. I’m lost with my writing. I’m not blogging, and I’m not really present on social media. I just don’t want to.

Self-medication, can you help?

But I realized that I couldn’t keep waiting, putting my life and happiness on those two things: a good run, and a government cheque. I had to do something about it. And I was reminded of this story from Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia. God does love to give me examples from fantasy literature. He knows me well. ūüôā

The four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are called from England into the land of Narnia as Prince Caspian and his band of faithful Narnians do battle against the usurping king Miraz and his nation of Telmarines.¬†(This is the book we’re talking about, not the slightly sub-par movie–cute Prince Caspian aside).¬†Caspian and his insurgents are besieged in the stronghold of Aslan’s How, at the last of their strength, wits and supplies. Everyone among them has lost blood. And then the four children arrive, late at night, at the How, guided there by Aslan the Lion himself.

But here’s the thing. Aslan doesn’t leap upon the Telmarines and kill them himself. He sends Edmund and Peter into the stronghold to help Caspian. Then he leaves with Susan and Lucy on a tour of the countryside. It doesn’t look like he’s going to help at all.

So Peter proposes a plan. It’s a near hopeless plan. He will personally duel King Miraz, man to man, sword to sword. “Can you beat him?” Edmund asks. “I’m fighting him to find out,” Peter replies. It’s a lousy plan and he knows it, but as he explains, it will take the better part of the day to send messengers back and forth between camps. By the time they set up the duel, Aslan may have done something.

Aslan may have moved.

And he does, by the way. As the duel ends in treachery, and the two armies clash, the trees, which Aslan awakened, sweep down the hill into battle and terrify the Telmarines into submission.

Yes, it is a girl’s prerogative to cry when she wants to, but sometimes you have to dry your eyes and make a plan. Do something, do anything, even if its a lousy plan. Take the first step from your slump, and perhaps by then, Aslan will have moved. Deliverance may be upon you.

So what was my first step, by the way? Yesterday, in anticipation of¬†not receiving the financial deliverance I’m looking for, I made two or three plans of inexpensive things I could do that evening. 1) Use my theatre gift card and see a movie with my sister. 2) Go for a run. 3) Make coconut-lemon icecream out of coconut milk so that my sister (who is dealing with allergies) can have icecream again.

We picked #1.

Today, after my awful run, I decided to pack up my laptop and go get an iced coffee at McD’s. I’m writing this post there. I guess I’d better post it before I don’t feel like it any more.

I Guess I’m Too Old For Harry Potter

I was as thrilled as a little schoolgirl this morning when I stumbled across the box set of Harry Potter novels¬†posted on Varage Sale. In an instant, I’d answered a cool ‘interested’ in the comments section while inside I was screaming “Meeeeeee! I’ll take them! Give them to me!”

Thus and thus, I became proud owner of the Harry Potter books at age 24.¬†IMG_0889When I was a youngster, growing up in a conservative Christian home, all things Harry Potter were forbidden on account of the magic. I agree that magic is a biblically grey area, and if I should have children, I’d probably at least want to read the books with them so we could talk about those things. So, unlike my peers who grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione, I waited to meet them until last autumn.

I committed to the movies first, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Never mind that they were ‘kids movies’. Little Harry and his friends were so darn cute, and I especially loved know-it-all Hermione. I’d be the one going ‘Don’t you read?’ too. Later on, as the stakes get higher and the movies become darker in tone, the relationship between Harry and his friends grows even stronger in contrast the evil they face. Yeah, there’s a little bit of harmless romance in the story, but the platonic, brotherly love is what shines in these stories. Love, sacrifice, friendship and loyalty are praised almost above all else.

I’ve been reading a lot of ‘kids books’ lately. I’m plugging away at a seven-in-one volume of the Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia is my lunchtime escape from the perils of work. The imagination is so much fresher than in ‘adult’ books. The good is so much ‘gooder’ and the bad is so much more cut and dry. I guess I’m surrounded by cynicism all day, so reading a kids book is refreshing to the mind.

So I’ve finally got my hands on the Harry Potter series. I’ll be the lone adult on the plane or in the waiting room, reading Harry Potter.¬†So what if I’m too old? ūüôā

‘If’ is Risk’s Purgatory

“Risk comes in all shapes and colors: bankruptcy, heartbreak, failure. ¬†The alternative is a world without risk, without color, without knowing if you could have made that business work, if she would have truly loved you, if you would have finished that race or project or garden or painting or triathlon or… whatever. ¬†If, in other words, is risk’s purgatory. ¬†I know I don’t want to spend any time there.” ¬†Georges St. Pierre

Don’t we all have these ‘ifs’ buried deep in our memories?

I have a business I tried to start. ¬†I know I didn’t give it my best. ¬†I was too afraid. ¬†Every now and again I pull it from my memory vault, polish it up, and wonder could I have made it work? ¬†Did I blow my only shot?

What IF?

In¬†The Magician’s Nephew,¬†the first of the Chronicles of Narnia, Polly and Digory come across a bell with this inscription:

“Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;

strike the bell and bide the danger,

Or wonder, till it drives you mad,

What would have followed if you had.”

“What if” is the purgatory of risk, as St. Pierre said. ¬†If we, because of a lack of courage, take the easy road, we get to live with nothing but ‘ifs’ for the rest of our lives. ¬†We live in a vaguely comfortable world without danger, but we become “cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat” (Theodore Roosevelt).

It breaks my heart to see so many ‘cold and timid souls’ among my peers. ¬†They’re too scared to commit to a relationship. ¬†They’re scared to quit their job and go to school. ¬†They’re scared to move out of their parent’s place.

Because what IF it doesn’t work out?

What if it does?

No joke: the world is a big scary place. ¬†I’ve got to acknowledge that not all risks are worth taking. ¬†The Georges St. Pierre quote comes after an explanation of his calculated risk. ¬†In Narnia, Polly and Digory awake a wicked witch when they strike inscripted bell. ¬†In other words, I’m not advocating ‘YOLO’ (though a little of that spontaneous spirit is a good thing for homebodies like me).

I’m reminding myself that fear is inevitable, but I need to look past the fear, or the complacency, or the discomfort, and make a calculated choice. ¬†Then, when ‘if’ comes calling, I can at least say “it wasn’t worth it” not, “I should have tried.”

It may be as small as engaging your new coworker in conversation, even if his accent is difficult to understand. ¬†That’s my adventure this week.

 

The Gift of Inadequacy

What if inadequacy is actually an advantage?

This story didn’t begin in a place of loss. ¬†Friday was a day of triumph for me–a day of small victories that all added up to make me feel that potent combination of warm and fuzzy and exhilaration. ¬†I hadn’t felt so good in a long time.

After my late shift, I sat at the kitchen table with a bowl of fruit and yogurt, and basked in the glory of the day–the weekend that had finally arrived, the goals I’d finally met, and the crucial conversation about faith I’d finally opened with a coworker.

And then I realized that this sort of conversation was exactly what I was meant for, even called to. ¬†That beautiful feeling vanished. Instantly I was scared, and I said to God “No, I’m not smart enough, I don’t have time to study for it, I’m not brave enough. I can’t do it!”

And this story, from C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian, came to mind:

The Narnian soldiers stand on the banks of the river Beruna, stern and triumphant. The Telmarines cower in terror at the sight of the great lion, Aslan. The talking animals of Narnia surge around Aslan’s feet, in joyful adoration.

And Peter pushes Prince Caspian forward to meet the Lion.

“Welcome, Prince,” said Aslan. “Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?”

“I-I don’t think I do, Sir,” said Caspian. “I’m only a kid.”

“Good,” said Aslan. “If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not. Therefore, under us and under the High King, you shall be King of Narnia.”

After a couple days of digesting, I realize that darn right, I’m not smart enough and brave enough, nor do I have enough time to study all I could study. That is all beside the point. No, it is BETTER that way. Recognizing that I can’t do it brings me to the place of humility and openness that precedes great learning and personal change. ¬†It opens me up to ask for help.

I’ve sometimes been offended when I’ve celebrated some small success, only to have someone say “I wish I could do that” in the sort of tone that says they’re sure they can’t. I want to jump across the table and say ‘Why the HECK not? Do you really think I succeeded because I’m so much more special, heck, lucky than you?”

I realize now that I was doing the same thing.

None of the people that I admire started with themselves all together. ¬†They grew into that role that I admire them for. ¬†You weren’t born able to walk, even though you had legs and muscles, and everything else you needed. ¬†You grew, and became strong, and you watched people around you walk. ¬†And one day, you walked.

Feelings of inadequacy ARE and advantage, because if I know I’m not good enough, I know I need to learn.

Don’t be Chicken, Said the Mouse

Image from the cover illustration by Stephen Lavis

“‘Use?’ replied Reepicheep. ‘Use, Captain? If by use you mean filing our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honour and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honours'” (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis).

If you don’t know your Narnia, Reepicheep is a mouse–a walking, talking, sword-fighting mouse. He is one of the most noble, courageous, and brash characters of the series all while being the smallest. And here he calls his shipmates to be brave.

Where are they? They are sitting at the edge of the Darkness. “For a few feet in front of their bows they could see the swell of the bright greenish-blue water. Beyond that, they could see the water looking pale and grey as it would look late in the evening. But beyond that, utter blackness.”

Everyone says ‘stay back,’ but Reepicheep says, “I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of noble and royal persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”

Ouch, Reep.

This was ‘my quote’ in the yearbook when I graduated from college. I’ve repurposed it for my use as a call to courage and honour when I am tempted to turn tail. Oh, maybe it would be easier to turn back. Oh, maybe there’s no ‘use’ in it. But if I turn back, that mars my honour.

Not that I’ve done crazy stuff like sailing into a darkness on the water. But, I’ve done things like singing competitively in festivals… which may be just as scary. I couldn’t say no to my teacher just because i was scared, so I had to say yes, and sing. And I loved it–shaking knees and all.

I wonder what else I would have done if I hadn’t been ‘afraid of the dark?’

What about you? What have you done, though you were scared, that paid off in the end?