I’ve always loved the mythological image of a phoenix rising from the ashes to begin again.  It speaks to the idea of samsara, the Sanskrit word referring to the cycle of death and rebirth; yet it could also be seen as a survivor’s tale of rising from the ashes of a worn and torn life story to create a fresh start, or perhaps even the chapters of our life closing as new ones begin.  It harkens to a new adventure, a new path, and a new perspective with which to filter our choices through.

When I think about my life ten years ago, I often feel like I’m looking at the life of another person.  Yes, I recall the events as though they are a part of my history, but the story being told feels like a closed chapter in a dusty book.  That life, while certain, specific moments may live in our cells to a certain extent, we have released most of the day-to-day nuances that once defined our life.  The choices made during that time might even seem completely foreign to the views we hold now that shape our current actions.  A majority of those years likely a mere silhouette in the tapestry of your life; faded into the backdrop of current circumstances that seem more pressing.  Each day we are being shaped and sculpted by our current beliefs, and the choices we make because of them.  As they are refined, over the years, to better reflect who we discover ourselves to be, the unraveling becomes the ashes that we raise up from renewed.

Personally, I feel like each moment is an opportunity to rise again.  Inevitably, throughout each day, I am making internal connections within myself of the direction I choose for my life; the subtle and bold awareness’s within me that requires me to choose what I know or to carve out that new direction.

So, what does it take for us to feel this sense of rising up?  I believe it is an awakening within.  This may come in the form of an epiphany that sheds a new light on a situation bringing about new clarity.  It may also be a serendipitous sign  that lets us know we are moving along our life’s path in the direction that best serves us, and we feel an invigoration within us to continue forward, even stronger than before.  Perhaps it’s after we’ve hit rock bottom and that single light of possibility begins to shine in the darkness, convincing us to take one more step forward. It can come at the end of something grueling that we have endured, and we feel shred raw and open to all of life’s possibilities.  Awakening finds us when we hold a space within ourselves, knowingly or unknowingly, of something greater or more meaningful for our lives.  I don’t believe it’s about hope, but rather a shimmer of trust in life, and in ourselves, that there is more beyond the horizon of what we already know to be true.

I believe awakenings only happen when we allow ourselves to be curious.  If we are living in a stale-mate reality, accepting that this is all life has to offer, we are likely not going to be looking out the window when the eagles come to swoop us to higher ground (Tolken reference).  Yes, we may feel broken at times, and I think awakening can also come on the heels of deep pain – but it’s the possibility, even a glimmer of it, that can renew us and help us rise up again with even an inkling of determination.

I also believe that it takes courage to shift what we currently identify with, in order to rise up and strive forward.  Moments like these, that call us to rise from the ashes, they require us to make the choice to; the choice to leave who we were in the ashes and bring with us only what serves us as we move forward – essentially forging a new identity, and thus inevitably, new choices.  We leave the loss, or the lessons in the ashes, and we go forward – whether with the sense of trying again, or of triumphing forward.

The beauty of the phoenix is that you can choose to rise up at any moment.  It doesn’t take an event, a monumental calendar date – it’s your life.  If you are willing to soar higher, and face all the risks and praises that lie ahead; you are ready to light that fire and swim in the ashes, as you remember who you are, to rise up your strongest yet.

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