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Joseph Campbell

Yesterday’s ocean post leads uncannily into today’s, a story so compelling it is hard to choose which segment to run. Inside the three minutes of the video posted here, our lives are compared again to the forces of nature, but this time we are the wave.

Please open your senses and grab a tissue, for the vast beauty and challenge here is outer and inner, both.

Last year, I met Jan Vozenilek, Director of Photography on the Midway Journey project. In the circle of people at Gail Larsen’s Transformational Speaking workshop, Jan told us about a crazy ride in a prop-engine plane, relief and joy at landing, and then astonishing grief as he stepped over bird after dead bird on the runway.

These were the reason for his adventure. To capture on film the beauty and devastation of Midway, island home to thousands of albatrosses, 40% of whose babies die each year, unable to ingest the plastic they eat from the Pacific garbage patch.

Jan was telling us about a deeply personal experience. But when he tucked his hand into his pocket and pulled out a handful of plastic bottle caps, the room fell still. Tears. He had retrieved them himself from the belly of a dead bird, and stood there before us, returned from thousands of miles. We each knew the weight and texture of those caps from personal experience. How many had each of us sent to the sea? Unwittingly. How many plastic spoons and toothbrushes and plastic pen caps and Bic lighters? Beyond ourselves, we felt the millions of others also unwitting, at the hand of these birds’ deaths.

The story is overwhelming. The project is a team of artists applying their art, minds, and audiences to a collective wake-up of millions of individuals making simple choices every day.

*Jan left us with a last compelling complexity, imparting an invitation an island elder had shared with his team.

“Do not consider them victims. Consider them heroes.”

Hero: Someone who takes a self-sacrificing journey to bring back light to the tribe.

From MidwayJourney.com:

“The MIDWAY media project is a powerful visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly symbolic environmental tragedy. On one of the remotest islands on our planet, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses lie dead on the ground, their bodies filled with plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch. Returning to the island over several years, our team is witnessing the cycles of life and death of these birds as a multi-layered metaphor for our times. With photographer Chris Jordan as our guide, we walk through the fire of horror and grief, facing the immensity of this tragedy—and our own complicity—head on. And in this process, we find an unexpected route to a transformational experience of beauty, acceptance, and understanding.”

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Wake up with me for the 7-day Wake Up. March 20-27. Join us + watch your life pop open. Cost: Zero dollars and a few dawns.

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Story Charmer’s Waking Up Series is the month of March in meditation on WAKING UP. What does it mean? What growth does it spur? What wonder and challenge? GUEST POSTS and personal queries will appear here throughout the month. Read all the posts in the series here…

If you’re spurred by what you read, and you want to write a post in reply, email me (hi) at (storycharmer) dot (com).

Join the conversation. Leave a comment. Write a post.

Let’s wake up together.

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On budgeting. In love.

January 11, 2011

I have this story I love to tell about the day I turned my money around. I was broke. Busted, disgusted, can’t be trusted, as my college roommate used to say. So much so that I wondered if I wasn’t broke, but broken.

I was also training for a marathon. Running is free, after all. I loved the daily run. It felt like an accomplishment, not ever having been a runner before. I had unlocked the secret for myself, which was that running is a technical sport. It’s not just an activity where you throw yourself at the road, run really fast and it’s over. You can time your pace, feel each muscle, call on other muscles when those are tired. You can build your stamina by way of strengthening your heart, and you can strengthen your heart with a stretch of road and a wristwatch heart monitor.

You can also let your mind unspool out there on the path. And if you have a mind like mine, you know it’s like taking the dog out to play. You have to let it run all over the place at some point if you want to have a relaxing night.

Not love

For all I loved about running, I HATED the first mile. It’s horrible. It hurts. For the first eleven minutes of every run, I negotiated, one side a chorale spectacular resounding the suck factor and saying I was stupid for even trying. The other side just shouldered the weight, like a grim old man shoveling snow. Nobody else gonna do it ain’t no sun gonna clear it but me coffee’s gonna taste good this mornin, ‘f I don’t stroke before I git there.

So one morning, when I looked up and saw I had run two miles without so much as a peep from my choir, no aching joints, no pleading psyche, I gasped. I laughed. I searched my mind for what had occupied it so intently that I couldn’t feel the vice of my nemesis first mile.

It was my budget. I was juggling it. If I give $10 a week to x and pay my gas bill a little late, then pay y $25 every other…

Not broke

I wondered at this a second. Being broke took up every waking moment. I hated it more than I hated the first mile. But…I LIKED this juggling. It was a puzzle. My mind took it to task and I got all kinds of satisfaction being clever enough to figure it out each moment. In that moment, I was a changed woman. I decided that if I loved budgeting my debt so much, why not budget my millions? Within a few months’ time, I had queued up two job interviews at investment companies.

I got the job I wanted. My broke got healed. I’m not budgeting millions, but I’m not busted anymore either. I AM still enjoying the strategies of money.

So it occurs to me this morning to apply this to love.

The Law of Three

My dad used to tell me that I brought home strays. Which may explain why, in my late 20s, I finally instituted my Law of Three:

If the romantic interest was

Addicted (to even smoking or coffee or Tic Tacs),
On medication for depression, or
Deep in debt due to irresponsible spending

I could not date them.

Having the occasion to pull out the old Law of Three in a recent conversation, I wondered if it wasn’t a little outdated. Nope, still applies, I thought. We all have our issues, but these are the ones I personally need to stay away from.

Increasing the love budget

This morning, I stopped in my mental tracks like I did the day I was running for my money. In setting my standard here, at these bottom absolutes, am I not budgeting my debt, not my millions? If it’s all the same exercise, why don’t I juggle abundance instead of poverty? Poverty of spirit, love, vision, opportunity, happiness. Abundance of the same.

Same coin. Different side.

Same game. Different pride.

My friends, it’s a brand new awareness and I don’t know how to end this post. Seems silly to say it’s a new beginning. Jesus has the corner on that market.

Existential pie chart. Of love.

Maybe borrowing from Joseph Campbell is best here. We’re born whole. We break into pieces. We spend the rest of our journey questing for the pieces and bringing them back to the whole. Peace.

I was broke. I was broken. But that run keeps reminding me, when I’m ready, of different pieces I left behind…and where to find them.

Hm. I’m listening to Pandora right now. The lyrics, “Heaven tastes like this.”

Just looked up the song. “All That Money Wants,” by The Psychedelic Furs.

Don’t you just love serendipity?

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Scramble or die

November 10, 2010

One day, fed up with hating myself, I got out the scales and began to weigh inside versus outside. For each instance I wanted to speak up but was too afraid, I would ask myself, “Which hurts worse? To keep this sentiment inside? Or to try saying it, fail and look stupid, but at least have it out?”

Read the rest: “Self Leadership for the Reluctant Hero,” my guest post today on THE MOXY PROJECT.

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