Ashley Wilda

Author

Tag: Legacy

Wondrously Dangerous Thing

I don’t think anyone understands how fiercely I love.

I don’t think anyone understands how intense love grows inside of me, how quickly it blooms, how loudly it roars.

It bellows its presence and dares any challenger to remain standing.

I don’t think anyone can really, truly understand what love means to me.

Love means this: you protect your own at all costs.

Yes, I know the women are meant to be the “nurturers.”  The men are the ones with all that testosterone, the big muscles, the aggressive instincts.  They are the protectors… right?

Yes, I say.  Yes they are.  They are better suited to the task.  But…

Some of us are born just a bit different than the others.

Yeah, I do feel the urge to nurture once in a blue moon.  But to tell the truth… I enjoy a good tussle over a pedicure any day.  I enjoy things that get my blood pumping.  I enjoy things that challenge me physically and mentally.  I enjoy wildness and rough-and-tumble-ness and things that test my limits, push me ’til I break.  I like things that are rough and raw and real and challenging.  I think differently.

When I love someone, my first thought, my first instinct, is to protect them.

And I make that my mission.

This means that when we’re walking from the car to the dorm at night, and I get a funny feeling, my mind goes into overdrive.  I walk a little bigger, stand a little taller, throw my shoulders back a little more, walk with a slight swagger. Walk like I own the street.  The whole city, even.  A walk that says, don’t you dare mess with me.  I think of what kick or punch I would throw first, what I would say, what would we do.  I’m always aware of the people around us, the vibes I get off them, always scanning, always looking.  I’m analyzing places, situations, one step ahead, expecting.  Listening to my gut.

When I dream up stories and put the people in my world into them… the plot always turns out the same.

I fight for them.  I protect them.  I sacrifice for them.  I prove myself to be strong enough.

No matter what.

No matter what that means.

No matter what sacrifices need to be made.

I. Push. Through.

Yes, I care about feelings.  Yes, I love conversations that have depth and emotion and substance and are just plain real.  We all do.  Yes, I care about romantic relationships.  Yes, I care about the everyday ins and outs of caring for the emotional and spiritual well-being of those around me.  I am human.  And yes, I am a girl, after all.

But my first, primal, gut instinct that will not be denied–

My mission, my calling–

Is to protect you.

And this is why, oh this why, when something goes wrong and I find out and my gut just clenches and my breathing quickens until I find out it’s all okay and then I surprise myself and cry just a bit–

The first thought that goes through my head is why didn’t I protect you.  why was I not there to protect you.  why didn’t I see this coming.  

And every single time that has happened… it hasn’t been a physical thing that I can prevent.

It’s been a sickness.  A sad thing that’s affected you.  An injury.  Someone’s scared you.  Broken your heart.

And outside I’m normal but inside the anger sparks and flares and shoots into the dark dark sky and I’m all big and bursting and aggressive inside and ready to lash out at whoever hurt you, make him pay…

But sometimes there’s no one to blame.  And sometimes there’s nothing I can do.  And sometimes I have to take a deep breath and realize that I can’t protect everyone I love from the world.

But I can try.

And I can be there.

And if, heaven forbid, it actually happens some day, actually happens that I have to put my life on the line for you–

I won’t even blink.  Won’t even think.  All this purposeful, cyclical, pointless thought will turn into action.

I will become so ferocious you won’t even recognize me.

A she-panther fighting for her cubs.

I will fight tooth and nail.  I will take a bullet for you.

I’ll simply explode.

And you will know exactly how big and ferocious and burning and unquenchable my love is for you.

And so when I watch that movie, and hear the girl crying, and I start and my heart twists a little bit because for a second it sounds just like you…  I’ll smile ruefully to myself.

But the truth is… I wouldn’t change a thing.

And if it all crashes and burns someday…

You’ll know.

Love is a wondrously dangerous thing.

Strong Enough

When I realize I’m not strong enough.

When I feel like I’ve failed when I thought I just might be good enough.  Yeah, I was on the edge, but I thought I tried hard enough…

I tried my best.

But my best wasn’t strong enough.

I immediately think of all the things I’m doing wrong, all the things I could be doing that I’m not, comparing myself to all the other people–because, obviously, they were strong enough.

And I wasn’t.

They’ve got something I don’t–and I’m gonna run myself into the ground until I get it.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be strong enough.

Sometimes I don’t think they can know that the littlest word or phrase or touch or look can light up my day or rain on it.

I don’t think anyone understands how badly I want this.

I feel like I can almost guarantee that I want it at least just as badly as the most passionate person there–at least as much as the most determined, yearning, wanting to be included, to be strong, to win.

And yet–I still wasn’t strong enough.

I didn’t realize how bad I wanted this–didn’t realize until I didn’t get it.  It’s always this way for me–there’s nothing I can do to change that.  I always say I care, but I can handle the disappointment.  That I’ll be fine either way.  But no–and deep down I know I’m telling a lie to myself.

But at the end of the day, I know… that it’s not about being strong enough.

It’s about running ’til you can’t breathe, pushing ’til you can’t stand, fighting until you win or lose.  It’s about straining every last muscle and pulling every last breath and shouting, rooting each other on until you lose your voice.

It’s about learning.  And playing.  And loving those around you.  It’s about doing something fun and crazy and taking a deep breath through your nose and feeling sweaty and powerful and new.  It’s about embracing the game and being there for your team.  No matter what.  Winning is great–but that’s not what it’s about.  That’s just the icing on the cake, if you’re lucky.  But that’s not what it’s about.  Yeah, I know it sounds cliche–

But it’s not about being strong enough.

It’s about being you.

And when I think of it this way, think of it as the grass prickles my neck and two lone stars shine through the yellow light of the street lamp–

I remember.

Remember the way the whole team is so close, like a brotherhood.  Remember how I want that, yearn for that, long to be part of that, accepted.  How they didn’t act like I was new.  How they didn’t disdain me for my limitations but accepted me with them.  How I got passed to and messed with from day one.  How I respect my captain, as a coach and as a team player and as a person.  How I appreciate every high five, every look of respect, every team huddle, every “We are UR.”  How I feel wanted whenever someone takes the time to help me out.  How I felt on top of the world when he told me the strengths he sees in me–basically, that I belong on that team.  That they all want me on their team.  How I’m part of another family again.

And they’ll never know how much that means to me.

They see my commitment.  They see how much I push myself for the last everything I have in me.  They see how I smile when I play and how my face goes grim and intense when I’m determined, when I really get into it.  Hey, I even got a nickname today, because I don’t go down easy.  They hear me when I cheer them on, accepting them as I hope, I think, I know they’re accepting me.  I love even the pep talks, even when others just smile, I feel something.  I love this essence, this tangible thing, that we have with each other, on and off the field.  We are family.

I think it’s called a team.

So whenever I get frustrated with myself, think myself weak.  Inadequate.  Insufficient.  Not good enough.  Not strong enough…

I will remember–they think me strong enough.  More than that, they think my heart big enough.

And that’s enough for me.

-stone dragon

Wings

Tonight’s a big night.

The last night in my own bed for a while.  The last night of summer for a year.  The last night with my family in a long string of nights.

Tomorrow’s a big day.

The first night under a new roof.  The first reunion with my friends.  The first in a long string of celebrations of just living.

Tomorrow, I spread my wings.

I want them to be strong.  Big.  Powerful.  Gentle in their brown soft feathers speckled with sunlight.  Gentle in their strength–yet ready to whip the wind.  Shape it to my command.  Ride it, soar me high, anywhere I want to go.  To anyplace.  To anyone.  Following my heart, at my will.

But not only are my wings strong–they are wise.  Faithful.  Loyal.  Intelligent.  Not only at the beck and call of my heart but also in line with my head.  And on a perfect day, those two will never be at odds.  The center of their compass is love. Home.  Constancy.  Protection.  Sacrifice.  Ferocity.  Forever embrace.  Reliability.  Adventure.  Love is all of these things–love is my friends and my family.  Those dearest to my heart.  Those I would give anything for at a moment’s notice, although I may strive to see the small needs right in front of my nose.  Although my wings fly on the call of the wild and the whisper of the unknown on the wind, they train true to the strong beauty of love.

When I spread my wings, it will mean six things–

I am ready.

I am strong.

I am free.

I am brave.

I am an explorer.

I follow my love.

And when I get a little scared, and my wings wobble a little even as they hold me up–

I will remember to be confident, and trust the One that gave them to me.

Right Now

Do something stupid.

Jump off a cliff.  Lie in the road.  Roll down a hill.  Take a bike ride to nowhere in the middle of the night.

Go on, do it.

I’m serious.  Right now.

Now, you ask?  Yeah, now.  Right.  Now.

‘Cause if you don’t do it now, you never will.

If you play it safe, you’ll never be alive.

What if I told you your life is in danger.  Right now.  What are you gonna do about it?  Anything it takes, of course.

What if the only way to save your life is to risk losing it.

Throw caution to the winds.  Heck, throw yourself to the winds, literally.

Adrenaline is your friend.  So is the wind, and the waves and the earth and water and fire and dangerous, possibly not-so-legal acts and the runaway beating of your heart.

Live to the beat of the music only you can hear.

You don’t not drive even though it’s dangerous, right?   Even though, at any moment, you know that your soul could be blasted into the sky.  You don’t let yourself be dictated by those fears.  Don’t let yourself be controlled.

I hate to break it to you, man–the same principle applies to everything else.

The world isn’t safe.  So don’t pretend it is.

So do it, go do whatever makes your heart beat faster and your breathing quicken and your hands shake.  Jump out of planes.  Climb cliffs.  Paddle whitewater.  Soar with the birds.  Pick you adventure, it’s everywhere, you’ll find it inside.

Our number one priority should not be safety–it should be living.

Some things are more important than staying alive.

Routine and comfort zones and luxury and money and safety and even education are your worst enemies.  You can only trust your fears.  The wild.  The open spaces.  All the things you swore never to do.  Listen–they tell you what you should do, not what you shouldn’t.

Be rebels.  Be creators.  Daredevils.  Risk takers.

You are the only ones who can change the world.  Edge your toes over the literal no trespassing signs and the stark white lines and the metaphorical limits drawn in the sand.  Let that rebel spark ignite you, consume you whole.

Be you.  You’ll be hated for it.  You’ll be loved for it.  You’ll be feared for it.  You’ll be admired for it.  But you will never fail to challenge and inspire.  Never stop living big, living loud, no matter what anybody tells you.  Close your ears to the haters, and listen to your heart.

And one day, the world will wake up to find its shackles broken open on the ground.

So paint with your fingers, howl at the moon, dance with the stars, spin till you fall over in a laughing, breathless heap. Wear your hats backwards, rip holes in your jeans.  Get dirty, roll in the grass, pick flowers, pieces of multicolored velvet sky.  Grow your hair long, cut it short.  Breathe deep, or dive even deeper.  Kiss often, and hug even more.  Smile most.  Laugh always.  Wear bright colors.  Go barefoot.  Count clouds instead of sheep.  Confound it all, skip sleep altogether.  Watch a sunrise and sunset in the same day, and be just as awed by every one you see.  Never underestimate the power of letting go and riding every opportunity to shore.  Freedom and happiness can be found on every star, adorning every wildflower, tucked away in each seashell, and hiding in each clasped hand.  But most importantly, you’ll find them within yourself.

Be bold, be brave, be true.  And you’ll be more You than anyone else.

Be impulsive, not rational.  Feel, not think.  Believe, not doubt.  No matter the circumstance.  And you will get through, and shine all the brighter for it.  Love others, love God, love life, love adrenaline and adventures and spontaneity and unexpected good times–and you will be all the better for it.

It’s your new world.  It’s all yours.  A little scared, you say?  Good.  Now go live it.

Right now.

Not a Tame Lion

We do this–put him in a box.

A safe box.  An ordinary box.  A decidedly normal, smiley, unmessy, unradical box.

So when we hear about miracles, healings, spurts of uncontained joy and the roaring of the Spirit–somehow we manage to cover our ears and say, “It can’t be real.”

Not only is it too good to be true, it’s too scary to be true.

We don’t want action to be required of us.  We want to stay comfortable and safe in our sane if a bit dull little worlds. Sitting in nice houses with nice jobs and nice friends and nice hobbies.  And yes, these are all good things.

But not at the expense of ignoring the call.

You know, the call.  The call of the Lion.  That great roaring, that’s decidedly not safe, but also undeniably thrilling, wild, and good.  The rebel in each of us is drawn to that echoing, commanding, immediate call.  It’s the same drawing that we all feel when listening to tales of intrepid explorers facing imminent danger and insurmountable odds, ignoring the naysayers and the danger signs, fighting through the evil until they attain the unimaginable… the uncharted mountain summit.  We hear the tales of their struggles and follow their progress, trying to appear not too eager, but inwardly our heart sings when we hear their victory shouts at the peak, standing with arms spread among the wheeling of the eagles.

We feel this.  This defiance.  This urge to set off on adventure of the mind and body and soul and suffer a bit and push through and do great, never-done-before things.  This is what the call awakens in us… and once fully realized, it can never be unheard, never quieted.

No one can ignore a Lion roaring in his face for long.

Unless, of course, he is deaf–made deaf by his own luxuries and fears and expectations.  By the world’s acceptance and even endorsement of small hearts and little love.

So unstop your ears, sleeper.  Take up your belongings tied in a bandanna on a stick, dreamer.  Lace up your sturdy shoes, adventurer.  For this will be the greatest adventure of your life.

Follow the Lion.  For he his wild.  He is dangerous.  He is powerful.  He is defiant.  He is radical.  And he is free.

And so are you.

“‘Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.’ ‘Ooh!’ said Susan, ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion’…’Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“‘He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.'” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Girl, without the Y

When I was younger, I hated the fact I wasn’t born a boy.

I hated having to smell nice, look nice, act nice.  I wanted the oft’ wryly said phrase “boys will be boys” to apply to me.  I wanted to live “free and in the wild,” as I told my parents.  To own a horse in my backyard.  For ages I firmly believed I didn’t want a husband, ’til one day I declared I had changed my mind–he would be useful for shoveling horse poo.

Although my opinions about being a girl have slightly changed (I do want to marry, and not just to acquire a stable boy), there are still many things about being a girl that bug me to no end.  Crossing my legs the feminine way.  Wearing skirts that force me to shorten my steps.  Shaving–completely unnecessary in my opinion.  The inability to wrestle with the guys.  The shortage of girls that don’t mind blood and sweat and dirt and good hard work and adventures and wild places experienced fully and up close.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized one thing…

My version of femininity is up to me and God.

I can be a girl without the “y”… being “girly” does not have to be part and parcel of being a female.

So this… this is what has risen up in the soul of me and trumpeted itself clear and I will not disobey its call.

I will go barefoot as much as possible.  Run in the rain.  Laugh loud and hearty.  Splash in puddles.  Play in the mud.  I will wrestle when I can.  Play stupid pain games with the boys.  Be more comfortable with proving myself physically than in petty social games.   Ooh and ahh over fuzzy green moss rather than flowers.  I can shout loud and try hard and grunt and strain with the best of them.  I can climb tall cliffs and swim in freezing lakes and splash up forest streams without a care.   I can get psyched at the growing callouses on my hands and feet.  Take pictures of flappers and blood blisters, battle wounds.  Be proud of every single one of my scars, and know the stories that I carry with them.  I can love big, and love hard, and love unreservedly.  I can prefer bear hugs over side hugs.  I can choose jeans and flip flops over dresses and jewelry.  I can love bright colors over pastels and lace.  I can feel most comfortable in a tank-top, flannel, and hiking boots.  I will prefer to eat my food simple and outside and end the days with campfires.  I can smell like wood smoke and good ol’ hard work.  I can howl at the moon when I feel like it, star spin when I feel like it, pick my crazy friends how I feel like it.  Love like my heart’s leading me, laugh as joy explodes with in me, be free and wild when the urges overtake me.  I can be impulsive.  I can be silly.  I can be adventurous.  I can be me.

Me, Ashley Elizabeth Wilda.  Or just Ash, what my closest friends call me.

A woman.  A girl.

Not girl-y… no, just a girl.

But still me.

And I like myself better for it.

Legacy

Life–what do I want out of it.

In the end, what matters most.  In the end, what will I regret missing.  In the end, what will leave me satisfied.  In the end, what will leave the mark I want, the legacy that shines in the dark.  Me.

Live Fiercely.

I wanna live fiercely, clutch at every moment, hold on with a literal death-grip, ’cause we’re all dying.  I wanna jump out of planes and climb cliffs and punch hard and sing loud and loopy in the car at night on a mountain road.  I wanna spin through meadows full of sunshine and multicolored pinpoints of waving wildflowers.  I want my soul to fly fly fly on a warm summer breeze.  I wanna wade deep in ice-cold lakes and laugh breathlessly as the blue blue waters lap on bare tanning skin.  I want to let orange lizards crawl dry-sticky up and over my arms and laugh at flutting butterflies, pieces of sky, landing on my smelly shoes.  I want to run in the rain, barefoot through the grass, she and I laughing at the sky while the thunder booms.  I want to giggle at every crazy car ride and splash in every single puddle.  I wanna live to the fullest and laugh the most, ’cause everyone needs a little life in our lives.  We take it all too serious and need to take risks and let go and let be and just live and be alive, every nerve tingling, aware of each and every breath, like a gift.  We were never meant to live like we’re dead, but instead live like we’re dying.

But more than that.  Oh, more than that–

I wanna Love Well.

Yes, love well.  Love BIG.  Love free, love unafraid.  I wanna love vulnerable, because it’s impossible to love without opening up your heart wide and being okay with getting hurt–and it’s gonna happen sometimes.  But loving big means you get loved big back, and that’s the best feeling in the whole wide world, the greatest freedom, the greatest adventure of all.  And when I’m lonely and sad and there’s a big ache where my heart’s supposed to be, I’ll remember–remember his big strong arms around me, making me feel like nothing in the world could touch me, could harm me, unless he let it, which he never will.  Remember her perfect brown eyes, the way they smile at me, the way they say you’re my very bestest friend and nothing’s gonna change that.  Or the way he laughs, silly and free, the way he’s always looking over at me, watching out for me, making sure I’m okay.  The way she tells me that she’ll always be there and it’s gonna be all right.  Friends.  Family.  Friends-Family.  And I know I’m not alone, that I never was, and that I never will.  When you love hard, it’s gonna hurt sometimes.  You worry, you ache, you pray and plead.  That place in your chest is gonna feel plain hollow with the magnitude of that love.  But I’m gonna love recklessly anyway–’cause I’ll get loved recklessly back.  I’m gonna open my arms wide and they’ll never be empty.

Because if we’re supposed to live like we’re dying, even more so we’re supposed to love like we’re living… like we’re gonna live forever.

Yeah–when I’m gone and dead and just a memory in people’s heads… that’s what I want them to remember.

My life-loving laugh, and the feel of my arms around them, never letting go.

© 2017 Ashley Wilda

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