What story are you telling yourself in your meaningful moments of transformation?
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He was seven miles away—but on May 18, even that was too close.
Most everyone had evacuated the area, but photographer Robert Landsburg turned his back to the crowd, on a mission to document the changing landscape of Mount St. Helens. When the volcano erupted that morning—releasing 24 megatons of thermal energy equivalent to 1,600 times the size of an atomic bomb and destroying everything in its path for 229 square miles—Robert had fashioned the perfect opportunity to fulfill his mission.
As the pyroclastic wall of lethal hot ash advanced, Robert continued capturing images until the final roll was spent—leaving just enough time to store the film in its canister, stow it in his backpack, and throw his body over it before the ash cloud overcame him.
It wasn’t until seventeen days later that his body was found, with his final work still perfectly intact—contributing valuable documentation for geological research of this historic eruption.
Pulled from the Bunch
As the saying goes, the banana pulled from the bunch gets peeled. When we turn our back to the crowd, we lose the safety in numbers of our fellow fruits and risk getting peeled—skinned alive for daring to dare—a most unappealing turn of events.
But what if we told a different story?
What is a banana fashioned for? What is its function?
It may be said that bananas are designed to be eaten; if that’s the case, and if a banana stays only with the crowd, then it is held back from fulfilling its purpose—rotting away before it truly comes alive. And yet, if the banana does get pulled from the bunch, then it is given the opportunity to engage in the very activity it was fashioned for. As Rumi reminds us, “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart. Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”
The question becomes, what kind of life do you want? Safe or fulfilled?
What Story Are Your Telling Yourself?
When we feel under pressure, crushed, or in darkness, it may feel like we’re at the end of our rope with nothing more to give—yet it is only when under pressure that diamonds are formed, only when grapes are crushed that they offer wine, and only when in darkness that seeds grow. In this light, perhaps endings can best be understood as meaningful moments of transformation.
When you find yourself in hot water, what story are you telling yourself about it? Is your story hardening your heart? Is it softening your soul? Is it making everything around you better? Consider this: the same hot water that makes the egg hard also makes the potato soft and the tea pleasing. Whereas some only see what’s holding them back and what they stand to lose, others have a clear vision of who they are, what they are fashioned for, and what they stand to gain.
Final Thoughts & Reflection
Are you willing to leave “the bunch” to engage in the work you have been fashioned for? Or do you want to maintain the status quo and let life to pass you by?
There is comfort and security with the latter, but it comes at a cost of never really living. As Grace Hansen reminds us, “Don't be afraid your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.” Therefore, to truly come alive, we must favor the former—though it too comes at a cost. As Max Lucado reminds us, “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back to the crowd.”
As for Robert’s photo finish, we can reasonably discern the story he was telling himself as he turned his back to the crowd—when his final roll was spent and had nothing more to give. The question is, what story are you telling yourself in your meaningful moments of transformation?
Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination. Through his company, Hashtag Positivity, he assists individuals, teams, and communities in “Being Well By Living Well” to experience abiding joy. Connect with Jonas today to discuss your challenges, goals, and obstacles: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination on a mission to help you experience abiding joy.