Life is either a grand adventure, or nothing at all. Eleanor Roosevelt
Wow, I am feeling awesome. The full wonder of my life is beginning to dawn upon me, and it is a great feeling. I went from feeling really low and existentially depressed to seeing a lot of meaning and beauty in it all. I’m ready to learn from my low moments and accept they are part of the journey. Moreover, I finally realize that it is ALL a journey, and every moment is the destination.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the job search process that led me to Paris- how many dead ends there were for just one thing that finally stuck, how strangely the lead for the job I eventually got came to me, and how much anguish and confusion over whether I had taken the “right” path. As it turned out, both patience and persistence were rewarded, if not in the way I had imagined. And now that I’ve got the job, there’s still the visa process, finding an apartment, figuring out some cash flow until I get paid, how to pay taxes, how to pay my American student loan bills, and many other fine point “administrative details.” BUT I HAVE THE JOB! Not to mention, well, doing a great job at the job.
It is all part of the journey, and today I’m already at my destination. A goal has been achieved, but there will be many more to come. A dream has come true, but I have to keep nourishing it into being, piece by piece, like an artist going from a sketch to a painting to a sculpture.
And o, btws, wondering how things will turn out with that dude in Paris that I kind of fell for but the timing wasn’t right and still not sure if we’re really right for each other. Time will tell, and I have faith that fate is kind, and I am being protected come what may.
The truth is that a life well lived is an adventure. Whether you stay your whole life in your home town or travel the world, you don’t really know where you’ll end up. Marry your middle school sweetheart or have a hundred lovers or live the bachelor life or even enter a religious order, but you never really know who it will turn out. We are so eager for the romantic comedy of love, for the Hallmark card and the happy ending and the prince who is always brave and true, not a fellow human in the course of his own development. And we are not princesses waiting to be rescued but adventurers on our own quest. The guy is incidental, the guy is part of the path, it’s not true love if you aren’t living your truth. And true love can only bring you closer to it. Love is sublime and terrible and scary and an encounter with God. It is not for the lily livered. It will transform you, and you will never be the same, whether you end up with a white picket fence and four children or just a few photos and a newfound sense of self.
When life becomes a question of following someone else’s recipe, making sure all your ducks in a row, and following somebody’s “rules” to get whatever it is you are supposed to want, we go on dying without really living. It’s not about the guy, the body, the job, the car, or even the awesome voyage volunteering with orphans in Cambodia. Those things are all part of it, but yes, there is more than that- there’s you, the fact that this is your story, that this is the only life you get to live, that only you know how you are feeling, and ONLY YOU have the power to change it. To say yes to life, and go where the wind takes you. As a holy act, as an assent to God. Like the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, or Pocahontas painting with the colors of the wind. Wisdom isn’t ending up where you thought you should be, wisdom is going with the flow.
There is so much more to life than losing the last ten pounds, coming up with the right flirty text response, or even getting that fancy name onto your CV. Happiness and meaning don’t come with a ten easy step how to guide. They come with vulnerability and the fact that yes, there is risk, yes, it will never really be easy, but yes, yes, yes, you finally feel good again because you are living your life according to your own desires. Not to please someone, not to assuage your guilt, not to follow the rules and do what you are supposed to do. Just because this is what you really want, and damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
Along the various stages of this adventure, I haven’t had it all together. It hasn’t always been pleasant. I have questioned endlessly. I have sought endlessly.
But I have also found.
There’s a lot of suffering that didn’t have to be part of the process, but I don’t regret it because I learned. Not to avoid pain, but to let things go so it doesn’t get worse. Not to avoid risk, but to make a decision and move on and let myself be human, even if things don’t work out as planned. Not to use fear and loathing and grasping in order to keep myself disciplined. Realizing that being driven can be an exhilarating, rather than fearful and draining, experience.
Realizing that every mistake I make is just a chance to learn to love and find compassion or myself more, and in doing so become even more available for others.
Realizing that every time I score a victory, it deserves to be celebrated, and that I can take all the challenges that come next. And that yes, I can relax and enjoy for a change and there’s nothing wrong with that either.
And the most important realization, that “I don’t know,” is a great answer. And no word spoken in truth should be a cause of shame.
I guess I’ve learned a lot, and I have a lot still to learn.
Here’s to dead end roads, broken pencils, mistakes, and getting lost. Here’s to the nights lying awake in confusion and tears you shed because you cared. Here’s to the uncertain future and the still confusing past. Here’s to the moments of enlightenment and the moments of turmoil. Here’s to temporary defeat always leading to final victory. here’s to the moment, here’s to the joy, here’s to getting there, and knowing that’s not just half but all the fun but getting there is a sweet, glorious moment.
Here’s to life, and here’s to you. And me!