Rising to the Occasion Can Set You Up for a Fall

And that’s okay.

Brace yourselves for this groundbreaking news: life is complicated.

Yeah, I know—nothing even remotely newsworthy there. I know you know this basic truth deep in your bones because, well…if you’re reading this…chances are you’re alive.

Most days are a complicated mess of feelings, emotions (yes, they are different), responsibilities, desires, relationships, stresses, and more. I think this is why we strive to relish the “simple things” in life—because they all too often get lost in the swirl of the complicated.

But in this complicated mess lies beauty, too. The mess isn’t always an intricate knot to be untied. Sometimes, rather than seeing it as something to unravel, it is better to understand it as a woven fabric made of different colors, textures, strengths, and styles that is beautiful when viewed from the right perspective.

Truthfully, sometimes it’s damn hard to see the beauty. Especially when there’s a lot of pain involved. But if you look closely enough, you just might find it.


falling by Teddy Kelley


I recently faced a longstanding problem. Relationships, obviously, are prime territory for troubles. When you take your mess and mix it with another’s mess, it’s no surprise that the result isn’t simplicity.

In this particular challenge, after years of hurt with the hope of healing, I had a bit of a seismic shift. I chose—at least in my mind—to rise to the occasion and reach out even though I was the one hoping to be the receiver of “the reach.”

It didn’t exactly go well.

Of course, this resulted in waking up some old hurts, and I felt like packing up my “trying” bag and going home. And I did for a while. And then another situation developed where I knew I needed to rise again.

This time it went okay. Not great, but okay. That was something. Cue the spark of hope.

When it was time for round three to happen, I nurtured that spark but knew that realistically I shouldn’t expect it to grow into much of a fire.

I was right to keep my expectations low.

The result, while not surprising, was disappointing.

And that disappointment hurts. The rising—only to fall—hurts. The mess continues, and I’m not sure where the next step will take us.

So where is the beauty, you might ask?

Though I still fell, I first rose.


surfing by Nicolas Cool


When I stand back and look at it all, I know that the easiest, safest choice would have been to sit and wait—and I certainly did that for a long time. But then I went from sitting and waiting to standing and acting. And even though the outcome was less than I had hoped, there is something to be said for rising to the occasion. For knowing that even though it was probably going to result in more hurt, I took the first step. For getting back up again and taking another stride forward. And another.

The beauty was in my choice to rise. I’m not typically my own “horn tooter,” but I realize in this experience how important it is to stand back and see through the mess that—I did the right thing in a very tough situation.

And while I’m not sure what the next right step will be, I know that I’ve taken it before and I can take it again. And that’s worth acknowledging and maybe even being a little proud about. That’s weird to say out loud, but…it’s true.

There is beauty in rising to the occasion, and there is beauty in picking yourself up from the fall. Though it’s still a mess, woven within that mess is effort and vulnerability and forgiveness and grace. And that’s pretty damn beautiful.


whale joy by Thomas Kelley





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