Out I rise from the ashes like a phoenix reborn.

We all walk through the darkness. But it is this darkness that shapes our light just as much as anything else. We are not so much defined by the times of happiness, but rather by the times where we were torn apart, damaged, and shaken to our foundations. Sometimes, it takes a good fall to truly understand how you are built. There are those moments in life where you need to understand how strong your footing is and how quickly you can return to standing upright after being knocked down.

The Black Dog, as Winston Churchill called it, follows us every day nipping at our heals. The good news is, the white wolf walks with you as well, and depending on which one you feed is the one that is going to gain strength.

There are situations in our lives that we cannot control. Events that smack us around a bit and check our momentum. It is very easy to let these events define your path…even knock you off the rails completely. But the strongest tree in the forest is the one that grows its roots deep because it has faced the storm ahead of any other. It digs in. It plants itself firmly against resistance and develops that one characteristic that defines nature and man throughout hardship: resilience.

Resilience is what got me here in the first place. Resilience is what got me through hell and allowed me to walk through the heat. Resilience is what kept me going when my one dream disintegrated in front of me without any possible explanation. Resilience allowed me to sit up that day after wanting to stay laying flat on the bed. Resilience taught me that no matter how bad it was, there was always light in every situation…I just had to look for it.

Resilience…has brought me to this moment, a moment of accountability – where I can truly say that I have let myself down in many ways, but I am willing to go in one more round and give it everything I have. I am willing to see through the failure and learn from my past experiences. I know how hard it is. I know how my weaknesses can thwart my efforts to succeed. I have seen them deliberately crumble my future and terrorize my present. I have seen how they have governed my past.

I can see how my ego can get in the way of my efforts and soften my courage. I saw how angry it made me. I found out what it is like when you harbor hate in your heart. I have seen the other side of myself in the past – the fighter, full of misdirected energy and agitation that ran up the center of my back. The stubborn lone wolf that lacked sympathy, empathy, understanding and warmth. Cold. My heart beat slower during those years. My mind – a uncontrollable tornado and my emotions a unharnessed lightning storm.

And it was fear and weakness that made me feign strength. It was hollow. The creatures of emptiness shoveled and pickaxed me away inside.

In this time, the time of being surrounded in flames, I ran around looking for an opening in the circle. But the harder I tried the higher the flames grew. The hotter they became. The more that I tried to fight it the closer the circle tightened its grip. I was consumed. And it was only at the point where I bowed my head and put my hands on the floor of that dark shower that I learned the answer was not which way to run, but which way to look.

I looked up.

The flames subsided and my questions were answered. The direction became clear. The purpose showed itself. I softened, and therefore became stronger. My present became unshackled and I lit a fire to my past…instead of it lighting a fire to me.

Every day, is an opportunity to live and to grow. Create for something greater than yourself. Serve others. Be gentle with yourself. Love passionately. Speak truths and not hatred. Appreciate the seconds you have.

I’m pulling for you.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project