Choose, they said. And so I chose.
I chose geography over history and Spanish over German. Music, art and drama all fell from my life.
Choose again, they said. And so I chose.
I chose French. I chose geography. I chose Spanish. Choices made from choices already made. I was gleeful! This was what real people did. They chose and they marched forward toward the goal.
Choose again, they said. And so I chose.
The glaciers and the meandering rivers and the cumulonimbus clouds faded into the past along with all the ‘carentes’ and ‘caricias’ and ‘arrugas’ of Spanish, words to this day that stick inside my head thanks to my friend Ruth who helped me learn all my Spanish vocabulary by association.
Carente = lacking = ‘the car ain’t here’ = the car is lacking.
Caricia = caress = the car is here = caressing the car in happiness that it is here.
Arruga = wrinkle = arruga! arruga! arruga! said with urgency and alarm = there is a wrinkle oh my goodness!!!
It sounds utterly mad and so very tenuously linked but it works so well!
Now there was just me and French and I was gleeful again! I was getting there! Where? That place where people are going, of course. The future! Life! Happiness!
And four years later I was out in the world and I was being asked to choose again. But looking at the plate of offerings I saw nothing that sparked even the remotest joy and thus began my journey into the ‘real’ world.
Six years passed. It wasn’t all miserable (and I even made an escape to France for a while), but the overall direction of my soul was decay.
I had chosen and chosen and chosen like they told me to. I had thought I was going somewhere wonderful. But here I was sitting in an office utterly depressed by this narrow, dull as a doorknob life.
I made a break for freedom. I took up acting, started a blog, played the ukulele, drew stick girls with a bow in her hair, travelled, volunteered on organic farms, learned meditation, read.
My soul had been parched from all the years of narrowing and narrowing and now I was gulping down the waters of what I soon realised was actually ‘real’ life.
Funds began to dwindle and there was an increasing need to ‘make something of myself’. I had discovered so much joy and so many passions but now I had to also make money! I started to look into how to turn the things I’d been creating into a business and the advice I discovered, over and over again?
Choose a niche. Be specific. Narrow down.
And I did! At least, I tried. For years I tried and tried and tried to conform. To be the way I was supposed to be in order to be successful and to build a ‘real business’. I followed steps and systems and formulas and methods and I tried to choose and be just one thing.
Every time I chose, I felt a giddy excitement. This was it! This time I’d hit upon the thing and I would be able to focus and build a proper life and be safe and secure and happy. But soon enough, the excitement always dwindled and my heart longed for the things I’d left behind. The choosing, in the end, always felt false and sickening to my soul.
I wondered what was wrong with me. Did I have a commitment problem? A discipline problem? Why was everyone else able to choose?
All my life, I have wanted to be the master. That person who has dedicated her life to a singular craft. This commitment, this mastery, it’s utterly beautiful to me. I’m so inspired by those people who have dedicated themselves in this way.
But I am not that person. I cannot be that person.
I love to write, but I do not only want to write. I love to paint the wildflowers, but I do not only want to paint the wildflowers. I love to sit with people in presence and offer space for hearts to open and unfold, but I do not only want to do this. I love to sing and sew and make videos, sometimes, but I do not only want to do any of those things.
And so I will never be that master. I will not be the best. I will never be the best writer or the best poet or the best painter or the best singer. And I may not even be very good at any of those things. And I may never make much of myself in the eyes of the world.
But each thing I do – each poem I write or flower I paint or song I sing – will be filled with the genuine joy of my heart and the genuine joy of being true to myself. The joy of refusing to choose. The joy of embracing what I am and accepting what I am not.
Besides, perhaps there is mastery in this too. A mastery that is right for me, and perhaps for you, too. The mastery of simply having the courage to be oneself!
Love and courage,