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(The following is a small narrative based on true events.)

It was a cold, gloomy February day when I saw the picket signs piercing the sky, rhythmic, up and down, swaying, all around. Ardent, pinched faces screamed into the deaf air. Six weeks into the semester, and the professors were on strike that threatened to consume the rest of the semester.

From a student aspect, this might be a bit disturbing. I had a choice as I returned home. How would I deal with this situation? Would I merely see loss before me? Would I adopt a hardened, cynical, entitled attitude as a result? Would I project these feelings onto others? Onto fellow students? Adopt all the feelings of injustice? Was I going to allow this event to tarnish my spirit? Was it going to be yet another series of traumas to calcify my heart, enhancing the tumor of bitterness within me?

I clenched my jaw as a small, penetratingly calm voice said to me, “No!”

Temptation into the realms of victimization and drudgery and bitterness evaporated. I decided to not go straight home. I drove onward to the prairie, where I could amble in the reticence and somber beauty of this melancholy season ‘neath a granite-grey sky, listening to that inner voice I had been so long estranged with.

I got out and climbed that first knoll of the swaying prairie. I turned my collar up and absorbed the strange beauty all around. The murmur of the town below dissipated, and I was finally alone. That voice returned to me, “I am opportunity, I am Life itself.”

I needed to find something edifying to fill this void with. I had been struggling for so long with “idle time”, as I saw it. I wanted to run away from stillness, as I perceived it as idle. But really…the truth inside said, “You crave chaos, like an addict, to distract, to consume all your time, because, you are afraid, afraid of doing something bold, something powerful and terrifying, afraid of the dramatic change in your life that you need.”

I needed something better. I could not evaporate into the tide of college life this time, to escape the demons, the troubles that have been fraying my life.

“It is time to give,” the voice said, “I am your Opportunity.”

Suddenly I stopped, and watched, marveling, as a tiny wren balanced delicately on the long, brown stem of a dead, decapitated flower. The beauty of that moment filled my heart. The small almond-brown bird was so tiny and so full of life and joy. Her eye shimmered so brightly, and then, with a gust of wind, she was on the wing, yet again, vanishing.

“I will volunteer, I will exude a positive attitude, I will open my mind up to the whole world of possibility,” I said to myself, “I am not a victim, and I don’t crave vengeance and battle. I seek peace, now. I will go out into the community and do all I can to serve, and find myself again. I am not going to be idle, or bored, I am going to do something of substance. I am going to give of myself. I am going to relinquish judgment. Everyone deserves to be helped. I will help the strangers of this town, and see them as friends, even if they are mean and bitter in return. I cannot go through life this way anymore…I am not a victim. I am not unreliable. I am not sick, and weak. I am strong. I am thriving. It is time to work on myself, and find a comfort with stillness again, and find my purpose in life, again, without fear or narrow-mindedness, without distraction or masochism or victimization. It ends now, I am changing, I have changed.”

These new beliefs overwhelmed me, and I felt an onslaught of intense feeling as I fell to the ground, so cold and lovely, and I cried. Suddenly, opportunities seemed to fly into my mind. I had a future! One of my own making! I could do whatever I wanted with this life! There was hope in doing something creative, innovative, and new with my life. I was no longer a victim. I could do something, anything, for the good of my future, and others. I was so excited, I wanted to kiss that dull, brown earth so frozen beneath me. How enthralling everything seemed. How vibrant and lovely was life, now!

“Is this surrender?” I asked, “Is this acceptance?”

The voice merely said again, “I am opportunity, I am Life itself.”