Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What is Your Tree Branch?

Before you read any further, consider the following story: 

"A man is who is being chased by a tiger leaps off a cliff in an effort to escape.  Fortunately, a tree growing from the side of the cliff breaks his fall, and he is able to grab hold, hang on, and save his own life.  Dangling from the tree, he feels his grip loosen and becomes terrified that he will fall to his death.   He looks up, only to see the angry tiger pacing at the edge of the cliff, waiting to devour him.  As he looks down, he sees only jagged rocks, hundreds of feet below.  In desperation, he yells out, "Help! Someone, please help me!"  Out of nowhere, the man hears a voice responding, "Yes?  I can help."  The man replies, "God, is that you? Please help me! I'll do anything!"  The voice answers, "Okay, then simply let go."  The man pauses to think for a moment.  Unsure of what to do, he asks, "Is anyone else there?"

…Sometimes, especially in the face of fear, letting go of what feels like our saving grace is the last thing that we feel comfortable doing.  Instead, we desperately hang on to things that may or may not serve us well, clinging to the hope that they will provide us with what we need.  Quite often, these things are difficult to release from our lives because our identities are attached to them.  They help us cope, give us control, and are very intimate parts of who we are.  Indeed, some of these things may serve us well.  Yet, it seems that we tend to cling to things that are not as fulfilling as we may think, merely providing us with a false sense of security, numbing our discomfort, and perpetuating a foggy life.

As you read this, I encourage you to think about what it is that you are hanging on to.  Ask yourself, what is the tiger that is chasing you?  What is it that scares you?  What part of yourself seems too ingrained to let go of?  And what purpose does that serve you?  Can you imagine a life without that tree branch?  Can you visualize the liberation you might feel if you freed yourself from that burden?  Or perhaps, it is not something that you need to let go of, and it is instead something you need to embrace or seek out.  If that is the case, what is holding you back from your search?  What are you resisting?  What is frightening about embracing that certain something?  Can you imagine how you might feel, how your life might look, if you were let go of certain parts of your life and allow yourself to embrace others?

Of course, this act of letting go of what we know and embracing the unfamiliar is easier than said than done.  Quite often, it feels counterintuitive and frightening to let go of the tree that we are clinging to so tightly and fall into the wilderness of ourselves.  But to hang on to these empty promises and resist our experiences is to avoid and resist life. 

So today, I encourage you to take a step toward letting go so that you may embrace something better.  Muster up the courage that it takes to have faith in yourself, and trust that you will unearth beautiful things as you are falling free. Trust that you possess what it takes to land firmly on your feet or grow the wings that you need to explore new heights. 


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