How To Rise

“Because when the explosion of The Courage Moment goes off, the only thing anyone expects you to do is to run for cover. The only requirement of The Courage Moment is to survive itThe Period of Slow Growth [on the other hand] is really a period of mourning. You are mourning the past you once knew. All the illusions, the objects, the things, the people from your past that left you, or that you left behind, are now being mourned. Surviving their loss was the first chapter of your journey. Mourning their loss is the second chapter.

– an excerpt from How To Endure (December 5th, 2011)

Sometimes, during the writing process, we toil and sweat for months, maybe even years, and nothing ever comes of it. Then, quite suddenly, our story bears fruit: what we had previously only imagined suddenly manifests itself on the page, and we realize, for the very first time, that all that quiet, dark toil in the winter of our journey was not for naught.

It all served its purpose.

How do we rise?

It would be easier to crawl back into my old cocoon, and I have thought of it a lot: to pack it up, tear it down, and go back into seclusion. Where no one knew me, or expected anything of me–where I was a nobody. To give up on my story just as it is about to bear fruit for the first time.

I still know The Darkness very well. I know that desolate place. It became my home. I am familiar with the bitter cold of winter. But now I am being asked to leave that home, and I don’t know if I will leave. I don’t know if I want to leave. I don’t know if I can leave.

But, today, I see a light. And it is blinding. And who am I? Who am I to rise?

We Are Not Meant To Be Super, But We Are Meant To Be Great

Often, we are satisfied with our wretchedness. We may not like it, but we are satisfied with it. We feel that it’s sufficient. It fulfills our “quota.”

Smallness isn’t wonderful but it’s comfortable.

But when the time comes for us to rise, we surprise even ourselves when we ask:

Who am I to rise? Who am I to be succesful?

We sense there is a way out of our “wretchedness,” but instead of welcoming this new way out, we implement the cleverest of booby traps, land mines, and tricks to trip us back into our wretchedness (the wretchedness that was our home for so long).

But to shine, to shine… that’s another thing. Who are you to shine? And who are you to make others question their wretchedness? Who are you to make them consider that they may have a hidden greatness?

No, true, we are not meant to be Super. But we are meant to be Great.

Being Super requires us to be perfect and infallible–always on an uninterrupted, upward climb to success. This is not possible for any of us, and we only disappoint ourselves whenever we set the bar so high.

Being Great, however, only means that we are meant to live this life with great purpose and meaning. Being Great means that we live this life knowing that who we are, and what we do, matters very much.

The idea that we are all destined for greatness is neither cynical nor optimistic. It is simply true.

Struggling To Welcome The Spring

I know how to have grace in The Fall. I can be patient in The Winter, but can I be brave enough to finally rise in The Spring?

Will I retreat? Will I back down? Will I not follow through on the promise that I made myself–the promise I made to you?

We are such troubled souls half-way through the game. We are awkward and gangly. (Spiritual puberty is such a bitch, ain’t it?) 

As our story begins to bear unexpected fruit, we can have a moment of shock. As we are breaking away from our old, dark cocoon, the sudden flood of light from the outside frightens us immensely–and we are prone to want to retreat back into the shadows.

We are afraid that the light is finally coming, right on cue, right as promised. Afraid that we hoped for, what we prayed for, could be just around the corner. Afraid that we could be closer to wrapping this story up, than just plodding along near its beginning.

As the horizon breaks with sunshowers, we run the other way. We run the other way to dive back into the pool of night before it can escape us.

But how can we stop ourselves from making this grave mistake?

How do we rise?

How To Rise

If surviving the loss of the world you once knew was the first chapter of your journey, and mourning the loss was the second chapter, what is the third…?

The third chapter is healing. Finally, healing.

But healing, ironically, can be just as frightening as incurring the wound in the first place. For who are we now that we are no longer broken and afraid? Who is this new, healed person we have never known? This person who can actually manage his wound? This person who can actually acquire the tools he needs to survive, grow, change, endure, love, hope, and succeed? Who is this person who can finally teach others to do the same for themselves?

Who is the person who can finally summon up the courage to follow-through on realizing a dream he can now see starting to manifest itself right before his very eyes?

Who is this person?

This person is not wretched that’s for sure.

But still, we want to retreat, we want to run away from this newer, bolder skin–and this is the difficulty of rising. 

How do we rise? 

I don’t have all the answers. But this is what I am discovering:

In order to survive the initial crash, we were rough and tumble–bold, risky. Then, in order to mourn what we lost in the crash, we were gentle, soft, unassuming, and quiet. But now, in order to finally heal from the crash, we must proceed forward with a new vision–a re-vision if you will. We must be detailed and specific about this new vision. We must learn to ask for what it is we want. Whereas before we were used to never getting what we wanted, we must now be prepared because this time–we might actually get it.

Just as there are times of drought, there are times when the showers arrive. You must adapt.

Why has the shower of possibility finally arrived for you? It is not for any reason other than this one: the time has come.

The time has come for you to rise.

The time has come for your story to bear fruit. All that time you spent in the dark, toiling away at the work was not for naught. Everything served its purpose.

The best thing you can do now is not to run the other way as the horizon bleeds sunlight. No, the best thing you can do now is to turn around, face that horizon square-on, and be specific about what you will do now that the day is coming close upon arrival.

How do you rise?

You rise with a vision. You rise with an agenda. You rise with a plan.

For now something greater than you is ready for you to blossom.

Fall, Winter, now Spring. Welcome the Spring. Here you rejoice, here you bloom.

The Darkness had its place, but it was only, always, just meant to be a pit stop.

Your next destination is glory.

much rise,


Today’s Courage Exercise

Do you feel like you are nearing a moment in which you are about to rise–a moment in which your story is about to bear fruit–but are feeling yourself retreating? Instead of fearing what the new day will bring, get really specific: bring your mind to focus on a new vision (a “revision” if you will) of what you want the new day to be like now that it’s being offered to you. You may find that focusing on your new vision will keep you from running away from all the new wonderful possibilities opening up for you. Having a new vision will wear off some of the shock of this new day, and will allow you to be okay with accepting genuine success into your life.

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16 comments on “How To Rise

  1. Yvette Carol says:

    Hi Ollin, I love the courage exercise! Yes, I feel I stand on the brink of success. I’m striving to finish my WIP by the deadline of 4 weeks. You addressed this perfectly. I wondered why some days I have found excuses not to write!

  2. This post perfectly describes my current WIP, which deals with the journey from mourning the Lost Past to embracing a New (Unknown) Future. I have been neglecting it recently because it challenges me to rise along with my characters.

    I want to. I really do. Well, sort of. Maybe. It’s so comfortable and safe in the darkness and solitude of mourning. Will I have the courage to finish the story? And, perhaps, to Rise?

    To Rise. To Risk. To Live. YIKES!

    Yes. I think I shall.

  3. RD Meyer says:

    I think we rise because our only other option is to fall, and I refuse to plummet to my death. 😀

  4. Jack Dowden says:

    The worst part about being comfortable where you are is knowing that you are. Ignorance is bliss, and all that. When you’re forced to make a decision, when you bring yourself down to the moment and ask yourself if this is what you really want, it’s tough. It’d be easier just to turn the television back on.

    Still, it’s hard. Living, growing, changing. As much as I want these things, I don’t know if I like them very much. If I can push through, I’m sure I will, but right now? It sucks. I don’t want things to get harder. I want them hand delivered to me in a UPS package that I find on my doorstep after work. I want it to be easy. It’s easy to say I don’t want it easy, because that builds character and all that nonsense. So I won’t.

    I want things to be easy. Is that so bad? It’s not like I expect them to be, and it isn’t like I’m not going for what I want even though it’s hard. But I do dream about it being easy. It’s be so nice, I think.

    Sorry, sort drifted off there.

    • Ollin says:

      I love drifting! I think many people would identify with you jack, especially me! Boy do I wish it was easy. But that is some great food for thought. I’ll have to think about that.

      But I do wonder: is it as hard as we make it out to be? Maybe it is really easy and it is just the fear that holds us back all the time? Or maybe we should give ourselves a break: maybe we have worked really hard, and maybe we do deserve some things to be very easy? I mean maybe we can never be entitled for things to be easy, but maybe we deserve some things to be easy–especially if we have worked our butts off so long and so hard. Is that what you were getting at Jack?

      What do others think?

      • Andrea Lewis says:

        I can completely relate to Jack and your comment Ollin. Heck yeah! I want things to be easy but I know that’s not the case. I have worked hard as well but I also recognize that I have set high standards for myself and I believe that fear plays a big role. Logically I know I must confront my fears and get out of my way. But I’m stubborn and resist as long as I can.

        • Jack Dowden says:

          Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what I was getting at. But yeah, as I sat around today, banging my head against the keyboard, I couldn’t help but wish for simpler things. I wanted my story this week to simply arrive on my computer, but instead I’ve got a weird kind of writer’s block.

          I think it all boils down to psychology. I mean, yeah, it’s technically not hard to ask a question or send and email or dial a phone number, they’re extremely simple actions. But it’s the psychological ramifications of these actions that we’re worried about.

          But you’re right, I think people are entitled to have things be easy when they’ve busted their ass for long enough. I don’t believe it will get easier and honestly it probably shouldn’t. But still, it’d be nice.

          • Andrea Lewis says:

            I’m also experiencing writers block and I agree it’s psychological. I believe as writers/artists we can be extremely hard on ourselves. But I try to move past it by focusing on other things. Patience is key.

            • Ollin says:

              Hey Andrea and Jack,

              Make sure to look out for my ebook when it comes out. Its main purpose is to cure people’s blocks so they can finally get the work done. Sounds like the both of you would find it very helpful!

  5. KJ says:

    Thanks for this, Ollin. I’m becoming more and more aware of the way I do this in many areas of my life (not just writing). I work really hard toward something, then shrink back from it when it finally looks like it might happen. It’s encouraging to know that I’m not alone in this — that it’s part of human nature and not a personal failing. I appreciate the compassionate way you describe the problem, which gives me so much space to see how it works in my own life and to choose to make changes without judgment or condemnation. Thank you!

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks, KJ. It’s so good to know that this post has helped clarify someone else’s. I hoped it would do as much. It looks like we really are all in this together.

  6. […] (one of my favorite blogs!) explores a related theme in two of his recent blogs. The first one, How to Rise, talks about what happens after we encounter what he calls the Courage Moment. He explores the way […]

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