Learning to Be "Gentle" with Your Story

The moon is rising, and I hear a wolf howl in the distance. It’s nearly 1 AM in a remote part of Southern Jordan on the Saudi Arabian border. 

 Sun City Camp, Wadi Rum, Jordan, Feb. 2018

Sun City Camp, Wadi Rum, Jordan, Feb. 2018

My blistered feet in my new boots ache, and all I have is my camera, tripod, and a diet coke. All the years I spent as a Boy Scout apparently haven’t paid off, and I’m beginning to think I’ve made a mistake. 

Then, I look up. 

Forgetting about things like scorpions and snakes, I sit in the red sand and stare into the ocean above my head. 

For years, anytime I thought about the ocean it felt like I was holding my breath, my lungs unable to expand. Secrets about the most intimate parts of myself burning like hot coals beneath my feet. The fear I wasn’t stewarding my life well, or I was missing out on what I was made to do…. this reality burning like cheap whiskey in the back of my throat as I tried to breathe.

Here though, in the Valley of the Moon, instead of suffocating, I was drowning in light. I don’t know whether it was the place, the full moon, or the Sleeping at Last song playing softly through earbuds, but I started to cry. There, in the desert… not far from the one where the characters of the Old Testament wondered, wandered, and trapped in their heads, tried to figure out why there were there and why they were there. 

I’ve talked before about viewing myself as an equation and life as an algorithm, the solution being a formula I had yet to discover. 

This year though, the word I’m speaking over my life is “gentle” – freeing my calloused shoulders from the burdens of the world and pain in my lungs preventing me from breathing in the present moment. 

 Valley of the Moon, Southern Jordan, Feb. 2018

Valley of the Moon, Southern Jordan, Feb. 2018

In 2018, I’m striving to be gentle with myself – personally and professionally – and let the aspects of myself I don’t understand unfold organically instead of trying to force them out. 

“Gentle” lives in the liminal space between suppression and obsession. Its awareness, dancing with your fear, anxieties, and unknowns without suppressing them but simultaneously not giving them power through obsession either. 

If your mind is a castle with many rooms “gentle” is placing that which you don’t understand on a shelf in the foyer… not locking them in the basement but not scattered all over the kitchen table either. 

I plan to write more about what it looks like to be “gentle” in all the areas of your life. But for now, my hope is you’d learn to breathe again, to hang on… not for dear life but to dear life. So, so dear. What a rare and beautiful thing it is to exist indeed.