Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Risk

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."  -Anais  Nin

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot

I coughed nervously and my stomach tied itself in knots. "Okay.  No problem." I'd say.  Inside I'd wonder if I really was able to do what they thought I could do.  "How did I get this job?" I'd ask myself and I'd think of how predictable the last few years had been.  No deadlines.  No words.  Journals.  Thoughts.  Occasional letters.  Students.  People.  Language Classes.  Piano lessons.  Creative endeavors.  Now one day would bleed into the next writing and research project.

 I lived in a small apartment, and my room was floored with dark mahogany wood. It was about 9 by 8.  A little daybed was shoved into the corner, a few bookshelves of my favorite reads lined the wall, and there was a balcony was off the end of the room.  Out on the balcony there was a  writing desk.  When it wasn't unbearably hot, I worked there as I watched the pigeons swoop on jasmine-incensed wind.  Somehow in that tight space, I managed to cough up words, and string them together on a page.  I'd dream of what came next. But this was my next. Then how come it hurt so much, this letting go of what I had hoped life would be? 

Fractured.  That year my life broke into a billion little pieces was the same year I discovered the beauty of what Sheldon Vanauken calls 'bare branches against a sky of stars' or something like that.  I read.  T.S. Eliot.  G.K. Chesterton.  C.S. Lewis's Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed.  Some Piper.  I asked God the hard questions.  Like how come this pain, this loneliness hurts so bad?  And why the pain?  And why couldn't you let bad things happen to other families, other people?  Why?  And He was silent.  I was 28.  

"Are you interested in a change?" she asked.
"Yes." I said.  "I dearly love my students but I've been doing this for 6 years making ends meet.  I need to start saving for the future.  I don't have a choice." 
And I knew it was true.  I needed to make a change.  I didn't mind where I was at, and I'd always had enough, but I was having to do side jobs in order to save back money.  I knew I'd probably never retire, but I didn't think that justified being irresponsible. And then there were those words of well-meaning people.

"You don't take enough risks." 
"You need to speak up for yourself."  
"You would have better chances of getting married if you'd put yourself in a position where you could meet someone."  
 
And I jumped and took a crazy risk.  I passed the interview process was offered the job, and I jumped, to show myself I could.  I left what had been my home for close to five years.  Never mind that I was overseas.  It was home.  Students came to see me off with gifts.  They ran after the van that would take me to the capital city as I cried a river of tears.  And I was gone.  The coal city with its dusty floors was but a memory, but the people, they still cross my path occasionally.   I became a small fish in a big pond.  My almost 2 ft. long hair I'd coil up on my head, and I'd wear business suits and dresses.  I'd talk myself into dressing the job, even though I felt like a scared six-year old.  And somehow, at the end of that year, I was a published editor and author.  

It isn't what I've written that comes back knocking on my door to say hello.  It isn't the words that I've penned that write me a letter, or give me a phone call.  The words, the jobs, well, at the time they defined me.   But the letters, the phone calls from people.  They've come back round. It isn't the words or the job. It isn't who I'm trying to be.  It's who I am, the pictures and portraits of where I've been, the people I know, and those who love me.  This is the making of a life.  

Do you struggle with letting go of what you supposed life should be, and embracing what it is?





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