Earlier this week I talked with a good friend in Utah. A colleague. A fellow traveller. A deep heart. One who can journey. We were reconnecting for the third or fourth time in the last couple of months after not seeing each other for years. It was a kind of connection that was so easy. So simple. As if the aging over the years has made it just right now.
She gifted me with a story that changed her life. Some of that story includes a meander in the forest near Haines, Alaska. At a time in her life when she had suffered the loss of some close to her. She was a person open to extraordinary experiences. Attracting them really. She walked further into the forest. Alone. Becoming aware that nobody really knew where she was. Yet, entranced by the beauty she was seeing and feeling. She was being changed by it. I sensed it was a kind of home for her.
She became aware of a danger. A bear. Didn’t see it. Just felt it. She stopped suddenly. She decided to return to where she began. Her rational mind told her to move toward safety. Yet as she began to return, a significant and life-changing impression came to her. “Don’t allow fear to stop your heart from seeing what it desires. Risk all. Go to beauty.” She continued into the forest.
My friend later learned how close she was to a mother bear and her cubs. The danger was real. Impactful. Yet, the impression to go to beauty was even stronger. It changed her life.
I appreciated this story and the related messages that I felt my friend sharing. Walk through fear. Walk to what we love. To play. To telling stories with each other. To laughter. To magic. To beauty. All beyond what can feel like an impenetrable barrier of fear.
All of these stand out to me because of the many messages of fear that are so easy to give ourselves to. In industries. In teams. In families. In society. And because of the much more compelling invitation to move to beauty. Something about beauty that is an invitation to create or potentialize. Whereas fear seems to shut down or lock into reductive vision.
A couple of instances that have my attention:
- This week working with a planning team for an upcoming art of hosting, we were sharing with each other the lack of registration. Some frustration. Some puzzlement. Some disappointment. We explored why. “People are afraid. They don’t have money. They treat the training as a luxury.” I felt our conversation and invitation process shift in tone as we invited ourselves to consider what is beyond fear.
- Last week meeting with a beginning community of practice on healthcare reform. It was a phone meeting to meet each other deeply. All good people. All inspiring leaders. All with awareness of how difficult it is for people who joined the healthcare profession because of their desire to help, yet are struggling and hurting through layoffs, mandates, cut budgets. We were all aware of the fear. One participant, Dan, said, “I want to know what is on the other side of fear. What is the story on the other side of fear?” Again, a shift and spark as we welcomed that question.
- Yesterday meeting with a group of local community leaders. Twenty people that welcomed the invitation to learn more together about participative leadership. Community organizers. Faith leaders. HR leaders. City planners. Activists. And from a great check-in circle, where people were invited to speak the 2nd answer, the one below the first, hearing this awareness of fear. Hearing our own struggles with fear. Yet also feeling a healing that comes from being able to even just say it out loud. And then turn our attention to what might be possible on the other side.
Walk through fear. Go to beauty. It is one of our choices. As individuals. As teams. As community. Gratitude to my friend for making it clear in another way through sharing her life. Gratitude to the many I work and journey with that can trust enough to just speak the truth and the tremble, to feel freed to move to the other side.