Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Changing Landscape

This post runs deep.

This past year has been a roller coaster for our little family. While the major parts of our lives are the same, it feels much different than it did last year at this time: our then tiny sack-of-potatoes infant now busies herself running around the house and yard; several dear friends have moved many miles away; my husband has a new role at work; I have developed some confidence about how to navigate the ever changing landscape of stay-at-home-mommy-hood; and I can't neglect to mention the latest four-legged addition to our family, Quinn. Some of our relationships have changed, we have faced turmoil at times, and generally our roles as people and as parents have changed.

With change comes re-evaluation. At least for me. It forces me to take stock of who I am, where I am, where I've been, and where I want to be. I do this a lot. A LOT. Probably daily. I have strong values and an equally strong need to stay in line with those values. Constantly re-evaluating my life keeps my high values, well...high. Also it is exhausting. Things like relationships, creativity, and faith are of extremely high value to me, and I prioritize them ruthlessly. I expect this of myself. Because this is the filter through which we see all of life, for people like me, the every-day mundane tasks are particularly distressing. Why, why, why would I spend time mopping the floor when I could connect with a friend, spend time with my daughter, or create something beautiful?! Pragmatically this poses a number of problems, not to mention the fact that it is a petri-dish for guilt. I read something in a personality profile recently that put words to the tension I wrestle with every single day. It said that my personality type, "...needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives." Um, hello?! Did someone reach inside my brain and dictate my thoughts?! This IS my life. Those who know me well know just how much this is true. Ultimately, I just want to be me. Rachel. That is all.

As I had a little down time this last week on vacation, I re-evaluated some more. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I have a strong musical streak, but is music what I want to do with my life? If so, what kind of music? Maybe I want to be a therapist, or an interior designer, or a labor and delivery nurse. I have daydreamed about all of those things at one time or another. Is there just one thing I should do? What is realistic in my current life stage? What am I designed to do? What would make me happiest and be most fulfilling? I think about these questions every day, but right now I am sensing them very strongly. When I am 100 I want to look back on my life and know that I followed my dreams. Or at least that I tried. The problem arises when dreams are unclear. I only have a sense of inner unrest, I do not have a clear path, or even a clear desire. This blog was birthed out of some of that unrest, and the need for some kind of outlet. The unrest is not a bad thing! I am embracing it and am excited for what changes it will bring and where it will lead. It could be something as simple as finding a new friend or a new hobby, but I know whatever it is, it will be good. (I am not trying to be cryptic about anything here, please don't read into this.)

I am thankful for the stable parts of my life: family, home, job, community, that allow me to explore, and dream, and venture out in other areas. Even admidst the unrest, I must also acknowledge the deep sense of contentment and simple joy I have. I am deeply grateful both for my settled-ness and unsettled-ness. It is a good place to be.

The Invitation
by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know 
if you will risk 
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are 
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you 
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know 
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
If you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments. 

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