One of my favorite folk stories is the tale of the prisoner.
It begins with a man in a dungeon, sitting in a cell during the Middle Ages.
It’s cold and bare, and nothing happens there except for the daily appearance of a prison guard.
The guard is massive, like a brick house. He says nothing to the prisoner, just stares and slides bread and water under the jail door.
Twenty years of this go by.
The prisoner becomes desperate, beyond exasperation. Things have to change, there’s no choice anymore.
He doesn’t want to live like this anymore. He can’t kill himself, so he decides to attack the enormous guard. That would provide the same outcome.
He prepares for the guard’s next appearance, examining the door. He tests the handle.
The door opens.
He’s astonished. He steps into the darkness of a nearby corridor, and then sees the guard approaching. He doesn’t even breathe.
They pass each other wordlessly.
He walks out of the prison and there are more guards outside, and they’re armed.
None say a word.
The prisoner walks into the sunshine a free man.
What imprisoned him? Nothing but his own ideas, his own expectations.
What’s your prison today? What’s it like in there?
Does it feel like a tattoo? Like a place you live, a literal jail cell?
It feels like reality, doesn’t it?
Maybe it’s the career you passed up, the romance you’re too old to have.
Maybe it’s the proof you have nothing special to contribute, the absolute proof that accumulates each day, building up like a brick wall.
I get it.
My favorite part of the story of the prisoner is the moment of desperation.
So much of life around us seems polite and tidy. Stop lights, the line at the grocery store, the neat passage of each minute on the clock face.
But inside we’re so WILD - so much more spontaneous, so far beyond words.
It’s remarkable we can be contained by judgments about ourselves.
But it happens.
We’re all like the prisoner, sitting in that cell until we choose to break free and live RADICALLY ALIVE.
And the way to take those steps is daily action, excited, anticipatory, inventive action.
It’s not necessary to wait for desperation, though, although most of us do.
We can act on INSPIRATION too. Now!
Sometimes it’s faint, but inspiration is the sunlight we’re walking towards, past the intimidations, because you can, and because you simply desire to.
And our fellowship in ROARing together is the wind at our backs, that energizes us moving forward even if the passageway is dark.
It is NEVER too late.
Think right now about what kept you reading this entry so far.
What’s the light of possibility that’s guiding you right now?
What’s your choice today?
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