Posted by: Banta | June 11, 2013

The Power of Intention

When you put an intention out there into the universe, stuff happens. Just sayin’. Take the intention to spend the illusive third half of life in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow the thread from the gee it would be great to live here one day conversation begun on some paradisical waterfall hike ten years ago, to the holy shit we live here now lightning bolt realization that hits us a dozen times a day. The power of intention will rock your world.

But intention alone is not enough. Intention is only the kindling laid down in the fire pit. For an intention to catch hold, somebody has to strike a match. Even then, there are no guarantees. Maybe the wind will snuff it out. Or maybe the kindling is damp. Maybe you can’t find a match and have to start your own fire using a wilderness survival skill you saw on the internet.

Making fire without matches is a tricky business. You have to generate enough friction to spark a small burning ember. You need the right kind of wood, a little tinder nest made of dry leaves or grass or pieces of bark, and a spindle stick. Say you have all the right supplies. You can still labor over your bow drill for hours and not light an ember. You can make lots of smoke and sweat and utter a great many swear words through gritted teeth. You can work a few blisters into your palms with all that fierce determination, and still not get a fire started.

First the kindling of intention, then the spark. If by some convoluted miracle the conditions are exactly right, the ember will catch. If you blow on the ember just so, a tiny fire will appear in your tinder nest. If the tiny fire holds, the kindling in your fire pit may take that little flame and run with it. You’ll add a log, and the log will catch. Add another log, and another. And pretty soon, the fire has a momentum and a life all its own. All from the power of intention. tinder nest

Getting to these mountains was a lot like learning how to make fire without matches. Our early intention was little more than a daydream, a what-if game we played with one another. The first few generations of kindling probably turned to compost before we laid down the right mix. Five years after the gee it would be great to live here one day chat, we bought three acres of woods and stream just outside of Black Mountain, NC. About twenty minutes later the real estate market crashed and any hope of selling our primary home in Florida went over the cliff with it.

And so, we waited. In the waiting, we gathered material for the tinder nest, combed the woods for the right spindle stick, and started making smoke and sweat. Lots of sweat. The friction mounted. On the Florida home front things were not going well. Elderly parents grew frail and died. A job that was supposed to last forever went away and took with it a man’s pride. Relationships got prickly. A house finally sold but for much less than we hoped. And still we waited. Holding intention.

Then, finally, a small burning ember caught and a fragile flame appeared in the tinder nest. A new job restored pride and purpose. Downsizing to smaller space felt good. Debt burdens began to ease. We found the right builder to work with (see The Road to Wayne) and broke ground on the house in Black Mountain. The kindling took that fragile flame and used it to light one log after another, until the fire burned with an intensity that gathered up our intention in its heat. All the what-ifs and bedtime stories we had told one another for years now danced in the light of that fire.

We held an intention until conditions were right. We held on in the face of our own resistance. We surrendered to timing and circumstances not of our own making, and resolutely cleaned up the messes we did create. We held on through the friction and smoke and sweat, through the downturns and detours and delays. We rode the waves of momentum that our long ago day-dreamy intention collected along the way. Often, we held on for dear life. But from this side of the fire pit, all of that makes sense now. From this side of the fire pit, we begin to set new intentions: to put down roots, to build community, to live mindfully with playfulness and passion. And most of all, to give back with generosity in ways not yet clear to us. And to be thankful.


  1. Such lovely affirmation of living in the flow! Blessings in your new surroundings and on your new adventure.

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