Tumultuous thoughts on calling and vocation and the age old question of "what do I want my life to be about?" have been swirling around in my head the last month or so - and while some days I find idea of a book, an umbrelled, mildly alcoholic beverage, and a hammock, with the occasional dip in the sea, a completely viable and life giving option, a lot of days demand a "bigger picture" alternative. Like one that uses my interest and passion and purpose to serve and all that. But how do I get there? How do I know what that looks like? Does it mean grad school? Or starting out at the bottom of the totem pole somwhere - anywhere? Or write about things I don't care about in order to get some street cred, in turn letting me write about things I care about? Aim high? Aim low?
We live in such a juxtaposed culture in which on one hand we are told that life is hard, you gotta pull yourself up by your own straps because you are all you got, money, money, money is success; yet on the other hand we are encouraged to reach for the stars, follow your dreams, we live in a golden nation of opportunity (It's America, y'know?) - anything is possible.
I am finding it is, if you have 8 years of experience, a masters degree, and a charming personality.
Until I figure out some answers or just dive into something hoping I'll remember how to swim, I wait. While I wait I don't want life to become purgatory - that in-between place where nothing moves, yet everything is stressful, where you're caught between "I was" and "I will be" because "I am" is unsatisfactory.
No, I am learning that the in-between now is just as much a part of my story as my future career, my future marriage, my future family will be, and now will be glorious and sometimes hard. Just like every chapter will be.
I read parts of Shauna Niequist's book Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life and found it to be inspiring:
“But this is what I'm finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I'm waiting for, for that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets - this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience...”
...I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
And so I hope to live.
I will try my hand at gardening, dye curtains teal, learn how to make chicken cordon bleu, and make window boxes. I will job hunt and probably have up days and down days, I will continue to work on breaking my nail biting habit, I will write. And I will learn how to parallel park.
“To all the secret writers, late-night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes. Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel. Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, or instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything.
Pick up a needle and thread, and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it. I need it.
Thank you, and keep going.”
- Shauna Niequist