A peek at my (recent) life in pictures. (This one’s for you, Mr. Ranville.)
I never thought I could enjoy a train so much. Sure, they’re more relaxing than driving. A tad more expensive, but oh are they spacious. But still slow, right? We just sat still for ten minutes, maybe more, as we waited for another train to pass. Imagine, with those ten minutes, what else I could have been doing. Eating maybe, or at least thinking about it. Checking another website. Sending text messages by the multitude. Imagine the productivity.
Instead, I just sat, quietly reading, thinking, patiently waiting for a lump of inspiration to rise in my throat. That hard swallow that tells me it’s time to write.
It is nearly ten days past my thirtieth birthday and coming up on two months post-relocation. My friend’s tell me that it takes approximately six months of being in a new place in order to feel “settled.” Let’s say I buy it. Let’s say it takes about four more months in order for little ol’ me to finally feel at home in this new place. To put down roots, to stop feeling lonely, overwhelmed, and displaced. To make a friend or two and find comfort in this foreign place.
Based on this assumption, I’m then one and a half years from my last settlement, from the place I once called home- a bright, but small town where I sat on a porch swing with my fat cat, watching the sun set and yearning for more.
That More, it’s with me even now. It sits next to me in the empty train seat. It is forever my companion. The More reminds me that there’s much work to be done. That I’ve got to keep growing, searching, seeking, helping. That I’ve got to accomplish what I’ve set out to do, whatever the hell that is. That invisible force that led me to college and then grad school. That spirit on my shoulder pushing me to do something big, to make a difference, to change lives.
I now feel burdened by this self-propulsion. By this assumption (pushed on me by society? By middle school “career” tests?) that I have been put on this planet to be a helper and that, because of whatever level of intelligence and ambition that I display, with my modest middle-class background, that I have the skills and the privilege to make. It. Happen.
To make what happen? This I do not know. What I do know is that ever since not getting accepted into a doctoral program (i.e., what I thought was my ticket to a stellar future), I have been scrambling. I find a cord and I follow it. To Michigan, to New York, to Washington, to wherever. I explore my surroundings and take part in the never-ending scavenger hunt that is LIFE; looking for clues and direction under every rock and within every cranny.
I tell myself the same tale again and again, repeating my goal internally, like a record with a giant scratch, caught on that line you just can’t get out of your head, no matter how hard you shake it. I am looking for a partner in life, and a beautiful place to call home, where I can live and love and do meaningful work. This shall be my purpose. This shall produce the well of happiness that I have been searching for.
BUT(!)—big butt like the kind “yo mama!” jokes are made of—what if THIS is it? What if I’m sitting right on the damn well looking around for it like a pair of “lost” glasses stuck on top of my head? What if instead of feeling disappointed and (let’s be honest) mildly ashamed that I’m once again stuck working in a produce department, as I did at age 17, I am just a puddle of joy?
My exception-of-a-human-being girlfriend reminded me this morning that we’re all utterly insignificant. We’re not only tiny but truly, in the grand scheme of things, here for what amounts to a flash of one hundredth of a millisecond. Whether or not we have a soul that moves on from here, circles around, and has another go at it, we, in our current state of consciousness exist only for this brief period. And, thanks to awareness and free will, we can do as we please for as long as The Universe wills us to be here. We can love life. We can hate it. We can live simply in a chosen state of bliss or be consumed and compelled by the rat race that we’re told is life.
And so, here I am, I suppose, doing just as I please. I live in a beautiful place and I sit nestled a web of love and support that spans across many miles and states. I explore this earth with a phenomenal partner and at present I work in, what amounts to, a very fancy grocery store that serves not only to make money, but also to make people healthy and happy. And perhaps that’s my mission as well. Perhaps, in the end, that is my sole, simple purpose. I choose to tell myself that whether it’s volunteering in a prison, sticking my hands in the soil, or running around with a box of Brussels sprouts, a smile on my face, and a loving intention, I’m doing what I set out to accomplish. Nothing more. Nothing less.