As with all life, there is more than one dimension operating.
All it takes is one small nudge—in the right direction, at the right moment, by someone who cares—to start a new life. One simple, but significant, act of caring can create a whole new trajectory and set a chain of events into motion. One is the cause, the other the fortuitous consequence. Not everyone welcomes or is receptive to a new opportunity, one that may arrive suddenly in a strange, unrecognizable guise when we least expect it. Or want it.
Sometimes, as a final resort, when we don’t notice the little signs and clues along the way or have the necessary courage to act more boldly, the nudge irrevocably closes one door, like being ejected from a job, suggesting that the old life is no longer a sustainable option for growth. All that was possible to learn or gain from that circumstance, job, or relationship has already been assimilated.
The soul is whispering, quietly or loudly, depending on our level of deep sleep during waking hours, that it is now time for fearless visions of what might be, creative adventuring, new risk, and innovative challenges that make us stretch and reach farther than we may currently imagine. So, out the metaphorical door we go, a literal door we sometimes hit our head on!
Cast out of our little comfortable nest we see the sign “this way forward.” Whether we realize it or not, we are equipped with a new set of wings appropriate for this next stage of life’s expansion. And if we are moving into a larger arena of influence, there is great comfort in knowing, as the spiritual teacher White Eagle assures us, “As the responsibilities are increased, so the wisdom to deal with these responsibilities is also increased.” Those Divine Arms are ever present in the background to steady us on new ground or to catch us should we stumble or fall.
A long time ago, in this once-upon-a-time story, a young man got kicked out of his too-small nest at age 22. In 1960, taking a year’s break from college, he went to the isolated, high country of northwestern Colorado to work as a ranch hand. Hard work, little pay but a certain amount of contentment as reward. As the tale goes:
One day toward mid-August, the ranch foreman came to the bunkhouse: “Mr.,” he said, “the Ol’ Man wants ta see ya at the big house.”
My heart stopped. Everyone looked at me. “What’s he want?” I asked, wondering what I’d done to be called up to the big house.
“I don’t know,” snapped the foreman, “but you’d better get yer butt up there—now!”
The Old Man was waiting for me at the front gate, his eyes snapping as usual. I swallowed hard. “Yes, sir,” I croaked, “you want to see me?”
He looked at me for a moment in silence—a damn long moment! “Son,” he said, “you’ve been ta college, I hear. Yur’re a hell-of-a worker. What’re ya going ta do with the rest of yur life?”
“I think I’ll be a ranch hand,” I replied, having given it serious thought over the last months. I loved being out of doors, where I could get away from most people. I had been to town once or twice in about a year (even my railroad work had been outside of towns), and that was enough for me. Besides, $300 a month and keep was more money than I’d ever dreamt of making, and I had nothing to spend it on.
“Well,” said The Old Man, “I’ve done some checkin,’ and college starts the end of September. If yur’re still here, by God I’ll fire yur ass, and I’ll see ya don’t find work nowhere in these parts. Yur’re just too damn smart with too much edjication ta quit now and be a damn fool ranch hand! Now git on outa here an’ go back ta school, where ya belong.”
And he did it! The Old Man fired me, and I couldn’t find work anywhere. I don’t know where the Old Man got his information. Nevertheless, he gave me a gift—a crisis, which can be thought of as a highly focused choice that “demands” a response. Thank you, “Old Man,” for closing your hand with “tough love” and helping me to focus with greater wisdom on the future of my life when I needed it most.1
The owner of the ranch saw the potential diamond in the rough cut of the young man. His one small act of wisdom and caring was the necessary ingredient to awaken the young man to a wider world and the honing of his considerable, latent abilities, ones that would have lain fallow and been sadly wasted in the rugged mountains of Colorado.
Since that time and with the helping hands of others who also believed in him, over the course of five decades, the man became the glittering diamond he was destined to be, inspiring and encouraging many worldwide through his spoken and written words.
Living a simple, quiet, grace-filled life, he flourishes in obscurity. Today as one of the great, living naturalists, he has continued to carry the torch of consciousness that was passed to him from all the famous natural historians who walked before him. He is a tireless, selfless, numinous presence for the all the animals and ecosystems of Planet Earth. The ranch owner’s nudge affected the whole world—in an enlightening way.
With 34 books to his name (several co-authored), he has written about an astonishing gamut of topics, from mammals to forest ecology, rangelands, streams and oceans, the bio-physical principles that govern all life, ecological diversity, a global imperative, the world in his garden, economics, many facets of sustainability, the community visioning process, leadership, fear and violence, to describe a few. This visionary is Chris Maser, the light of my life.
Chris explaining the hydrological continuum at a local public meeting.
Text © by Zane Maser, 2011. Photo of Chris by river taken by Harvey Thorstad in 1960. Photo of Chris speaking taken by Rick Osborn in 2009. All rights reserved worldwide.
My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.
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