The Mule Deer’s Dilemma

+ enlarge

It has been, for me, a strange, difficult and wondrous summer, one than cannot be easily summed up in a string of words. The expression of it would be a line, which mentor, writer and scholar, Renate Stendhal read at a recent retrospective on the work of Gertrude Stein. “Every moment is a new beginning that contains all that happened before.” It is so Stein to slow things down to their most apprehension, their most syntactical. There is such simplicity to her arrangement of nouns, adjectives and verbs and yet the meaning is quite profound. We are everything that has come before and we are always, perennially, renewed.

As I prepare to move into a new home, a new space, a new way of being, I find myself continually pulling and being pulled back to my old habits, my old ways of living. It feels, quite literally, as if I am the beginning sitting anxiously on top of the end, a black-tail deer, nose twitching, perched on the edge of a rock. Beneath the rock is the layers of strata, of years, of past experiences. From my stand above the profusion of sediment, there is an immense vista. But the vista is visible as a result of my perch on the past and to shift, move, leap into the present, the future, I must jump off the rock, let go of the view. From the old place everything is know; everything is seen. From the new place, well I am not there yet, and I most certainly can’t see a thing.

This is the mule deer’s dilemma, our collective dilemma. On the precipice of change, do we take a deep breath and leap or do we stand on the edge of our life and take comfort in the view? The leap requires we have faith in the clarity of our choices, in our alignment with our life purpose. Staying still requires a willingness to live our life as past tense.


This fall take some time to reflect on the beginnings that arise with each dawn, each opening of the great circle, and the ends that are marked by dusk, its close. Each day, like each breath, “is a new beginning that contains all that happened before.”

Ask yourself where you are gripping tightly and where, in your life, you would like to leap forward. Experiment a little. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Name the new place, the new way of living, that you intend for your life. Bound a few feet forward. The view may be blurred, but you will be right there beside yourself, cheering wildly onward. 


Loading comments...