My name is James Ranson, and I’m going to start with two things I love.
I love growth, and I love words.
It’s important to start with things I love, because the chronological beginning of my story involves a lot of things I didn’t love. I didn’t love the lack of direction I felt as a teenager and a college student. I didn’t love the low-wage jobs and unpaid internships I took after college. I didn’t love most the material I studied in graduate school. I didn’t love my first real adult post-grad job. I didn’t love the consistent presence of failure in my life. I didn’t love the feelings of confusion, frustration, futility, and inertia that I dealt with every day. I didn’t love work. I didn’t love money. I didn’t love women. I didn’t love life. Perhaps most of all, I didn’t love myself.
And, because a side effect of all these things I didn’t love was a lot of debt, it was very easy to feel like my life was literally holding me for ransom–holding me down or back until I somehow scraped the money together to buy my freedom, which at the rate I was going would be a very, very long time.
One day I woke up and decided something had to change. So I gave a good friend my Facebook password, told her to change it and not tell me the new one for 45 days. During this Facebook Cleanse, I kept a daily journal, and through my writing I began to understand that even over all those years of unloved activity, I was growing. And like a chick in an egg, or a caterpillar in its chrysalis, over time I had actually begun to outgrow my prison.
It came to me in a quicksilver moment, like the feeling of knowing the exact word you want to use, like delivering the perfect joke with perfect timing. Life holding me for ransom? No. It was time to flip the script: to hold my own life for myself. For Ranson.
Growth and words. The first got me to my watershed moment, the second defined that moment indelibly. Holding for Ranson means things I don’t love giving way before things I do love, things like growth and words and friendship and support. It means loving things I didn’t used to love, like work and money and service and women and failure. It means choosing to love myself.
And that’s where I am, right now. I’m holding my life for Ranson, and I love it.