The meaning of our life will be found precisely in our capacity to achieve as much of it as is possible beyond those bounds fear would set for us. James Hollis What Matters Most
In the summer of 2000, I decided to move to Ouray, Colorado: a little part of Western history nestled in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. I had visited Ouray many times over the previous decade and vowed to myself that if I ever had the chance, I would like to live there for a year just for the experience of the adventure.
My marriage had ended that spring and my mother had died about the same time. My best friend died shortly after. I worked for myself as a consultant. The time was right to take time to think, grieve, and reflect in the beauty of Ouray and the San Juan’s where I could sit in the warmth of the natural hot springs, drive the 4-wheel mountain roads and photograph the mountain beauty.
At first, I felt exhilarated by my decision. But then, as the first flush of excitement faded, the anxiety of uncertainty and the fear of the unknown crept into my soul. Negative possibilities filled my mind–all possible but improbable. For six months, I pondered many scenarios and contingency plans to gain a sense of control.
On December 26, 2000, I loaded my Jeep and a U-Haul trailer and headed west. I didn’t know anyone in Ouray. I had no clients anywhere near there. I had rented the second floor of a large A-frame home on the side of a mountain that looked over the Uncompahgre Valley between Ridgeway and Ouray, Colorado.
When I arrived, I exclaimed triumphantly, “I did it!” Then I thought fearfully, “What did I just do?”
“Did I do the right thing,” I asked myself.
I called Kenny Moore aka “Kenny the Monk.” Kenny wrote, The CEO and the Monk.
I asked, “Kenny, if I live on the mountain for the next 10 years and write, think and strive to become humble and wise and do some good deeds along the way and if I end up old, alone and broke, do you think a monastery somewhere would take a spiritual seeker in?” Oh, how I wanted certainty and security.
Kenny laughed, we had a long conversation and he sent me a prayer by Thomas Merton:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
I struggle always to grow more comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity.
I walk into the mystery of life with all the integrity and authenticity I can muster. I leave security to take my uncomfortable soul’s journey.
I do my best to follow my purpose in life, live true to my values, and pursue my vision. I seek counsel from wise people. I reflect on the outcomes of my choices, and adapt as I go forward on my journey in life. I cannot know what lies ahead of me or how I will handle life’s challenges. Life remains unpredictable and beyond my control.
Faith is living my deepest authenticity despite fear (My late friend, Bob Terry believed authenticity was God). As afraid as I first felt on the mountainside, I didn’t deviate from my purpose or throw away my values. I continued to learn and adapt to life. I didn’t allow fear to stop me from this and many other leaps into the chaos and mysteries of life.
I’ve come to believe that there is not one right way to live. That would be mass conformity and such a human community would be unsustainable. I believe that the way to live is in a courageous and authentic way unique to each of us. Each soul authentically expressed has gifts to contribute to life. That diversity has the required variety to keep our human community vibrant and creative.