Sunday, March 25, 2012

Curiosity Didn't Kill the Cat

I was writing a letter to a friend this afternoon to encourage her to keep following her dreams as opportunities continue to present themselves. As I was writing, I realized I was also writing to myself.

"Follow what's in your heart and your dreams. Keep your feet grounded, but don't let being grounded get confused with fear, because as I've been finding, fear can sound soothingly rational and logical. It will convince you to always stay right where you are. Go with what draws the best out of you. Don't worry that it may sound selfish because by doing what brings out the best in you- you in turn will inevitably bring out the best in what's around you."

By doing what makes you feel your life has meaning, you'll (I'll) be better for those you (I) love. Who's at their best when they can't figure out what the point of waking up in the morning is, or when they reluctantly drag themselves into "how it has to be." What a lie. It's a convincing one though. We allow ourselves to believe our fates are chosen for us, but in this culture we live in- we have the ability to make choices for our lives, and what binds us is our belief that we don't. Imagine what would happen if we collectively realized- truly realized- life is what we make it. Circumstances happen that are out of our control, but that's never a solid excuse for surrendering the power we have over our own lives. By that standard, my seemingly broken and dysfunctional past should cement me into the safety net in which I currently reside. 

The fear is real. Real risk is going to bring out real fear because anything called "risk" means there's NO GUARANTEE it's going to work. Then what? It's that "then what" that makes it scary- it can halt growth. As I've said before, stagnation kills. It drains the life and spirit out of us so we become shells of what we could have been. Don't let it happen. Face the fear. Feel it. Know and trust your ability to navigate through life. In my case, curiosity is what's keeping me moving. I want to know what lies around the bend.

At this point in my life, I can take care of myself without anyone else's help on several levels. I've lost a lot, and I've taught myself how to be alone- how to not rely on anyone to be there because people often say what they don't mean with such conviction it's hard to not believe them. How many of us have heard "I'll always be there for you" and found ourselves wondering if "always" was a euphemism for "never really"? Yes, I realize how pessimistic this sounds, and with all that said, I have found some particularly fantastic people whom I love dearly- and love me too. But old experiences/defense mechanisms die hard, and such a large transition digs six feet deep. I'm sifting through fears I had forgotten I ever had, and when people say "I'll be here to help you" I find myself wondering "will you really?"

Learning to trust may be the biggest lesson I learn here- trusting myself and my abilities, trusting my friends and family, trusting the foundations of the relationships I've built the last several years will endure when it matters, trusting that life is a "playground and not a prison", trusting my belief that there is meaning for me to create beyond just getting by, trusting that I have more to give than I recognize at the moment...

Nobody tells you how hard it's going to be to grow into your Self- that it's going to be incredibly painful and lonely sometimes. It sounds so reasonable to forego that pain, but how will you grow if you don't grit your teeth, and push yourself to endure? A quote from one of my favorite books, House of Leaves,  on passion reminds me that "passion" is greatly misrepresented in our society. 

Passion has little do do with euphoria and 
everything to do with patience. It is not about 
feeling good. It is about endurance. Like 
patience, passion comes from the same Latin 
root: pati. It does not mean to flow with 
exuberance. It means to suffer.

Following your passion is not an easy endeavor. It takes courage because it pierces into the very depths of who you are and what you're really made of- every bit of darkness and brilliant light. Both can be blinding. Trust yourself to navigate what feels like blindness because what feels like losing sight is learning to see and sense through something other than your eyes- maybe that's how we really find our vision.

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