Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting for the Purpose to Find Me

I was born with many talents. My son wows me on a number occasions with his many gifts but that exactly what I was too as a child: the best at everything – school, dance, music, social skills. I set up goals and worked hard to achieve them. I liked to challenge myself and see how far I could go. And I certainly envisioned the brightest possible future for myself.

Then how come at 32 I am stuck and feel like all those talents have vanished? I remember hearing at some TV show that “by 30 a person should know his place in life”. I think I’m more clueless than I was at 18.

One of the reasons could be that I ran out of personal challenges. It’s not that there are none endeavors left for me to take. It’s just that most of the key goals have been achieved. My education (1.5 college degrees), marriage, a child, a house, a car that I finally started driving after overcoming my fear, basic work experience. Even the country and the city of my choice that I can truly call home, with all torturous immigration procedures behind me. So when my best friend shares her many wants and unfulfilled wishes, I almost envy her, because I seem very content with all I have. My sister says that you need to have a wish that will be your guiding star in life, your incentive to keep pushing forward. I took on many ambitious dreams and actually got to live them. I guess I can now sit back and enjoy the fruit of my labor. A rather terrifying perspective...

“ If you lose your purpose ... it's like you're broken. ”
― Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

With all the “essentials” covered, it’s actually possible for me to take the time and really think of what I want to do next. The luxury not many people have since they are devoting all the precious life hours to basic survival. I almost miss my “surviving years”, because back then hard work negated all the extra thinking, so in a way it was a blissfully-brainless existence. Now that old “I’m-too-tired” is no longer an excuse for wasting my days. So I have to find this scary-elusive thing called the Purpose and get the process started. If only I had the slightest idea what exactly is my purpose in life, like some know that they are meant to be doctors, civil right activists, actors or presidents. I don’t have any clear sense of my calling so “any-work-will-do-for-now” approach has to suffice until I figure it out. My son says, “but you are such a good mom, that’s your purpose”. I don’t argue but I feel there has to be more for me out there… And we can and probably should have more than one purpose.

“I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and types of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason, too.”
― Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I know that I can live my life as it is now. If it ain’t broken, why fix it, right? But I was going at such a crazy pace in my twenties, and achieved so much, that I can’t imagine stopping now. Slowing down? – Yes. Stopping? – Never! The way life works, I know that eventually I will get some exposure to the “next big thing”, be it meeting the right person, or just being in the right place at the right time when everything suddenly shifts and you are in a new terrain, and though it’s still you, the change is now happening and you are becoming someone else.

“You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

I’m still afraid to miss the sign, to never be shown the right door that will open for me and me only. I believe that the most important things appear more than once in different form and shape, so sooner or later you are bound to notice them and make them part of your life. But I also believe that in order for a change to happen, it must be preceded by the internal change, spiritual growth, getting in the right set of mind. Until then that whole “being in the right place at the right time” won’t happen, the important signs will pass unnoticed. Looking at things when you have all this clatter in your head is as good as living blindfold. You can see but you can’t make the connections.

So here I am at 32, thinking hard, and reading a lot, and imagining, and hitting the walls, and impatiently waiting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Feeling Sad is Easy

“How we see the world changes all the time. It all depends on our mood.”
Sarah Addison Allen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon

There’s so much noise in life. And clutter. And also so much beautiful silence.  And happiness. We get to choose where to divert our attention, in which moments to linger. And what episodes we should just let pass quickly as inevitable life experience we have to endure but not necessarily allow to inhabit our minds indefinitely.
It’s all about the choice we make. I can drive myself insane thinking about the fight with my husband or I can take my camera and go take some photos. I can go in circles about his unfairness or take a walk along the beach because there’s nothing like the smell of the ocean in the morning. I can think of all the words I should say to get through his stubbornness and prove my point or I can start a new book and let it carry me into the world of other people’s problems and blessings.
I can choose to complain, and feel sorry for myself and maybe even act all sad and irritated. Or I can choose to take myself out of the context even though it requires some force, and transport myself elsewhere. We don’t always appreciate how lucky we are to be able to choose a better place for our mind for each given moment, unlike the physical location for our body.
It’s not about running away from problems, it’s more like not letting them reach you with full force. If life is an earthquake, we have more ability to control the emotional magnitude of each hit than we think. We just have to work on the inner switch that will facilitate quick transfer between various emotional states. Catching myself brooding over some unpleasant incident for hours I get mad for wasting my life whereas I could have been enjoying it doing something more positive. Or thinking much lighter and more enjoyable thoughts.
So I choose not to dwell in a bothersome situation and do/think something else instead. And I then I find this something else and hit my mental switch. I create moments. And then I multiply them until they fill my days enough to leave no space to worry, anxiety or sadness.
Feeling sad is easy, happiness requires work. I wake up each morning and I can feel some unhappiness already building up in all corners of my conscience. If I feed it during the day, by the night time it will become full-blown depression. I set to work on opening all my doors and windows to let the light in. And even if dusk is all I achieve, it’s still better than complete darkness.  
There’s no point in waiting till someone delivers happiness and all you have to do is sign, unwrap and start enjoying. Too much happiness is hidden and we need to go find it, extract and  keep it from sneaking out. But this happiness hunt starts the moment you choose to not be unhappy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The New Taste of Freedom

A number of years ago the idea of staying at home would be terrifying enough to frantically look for any employer that would have me. Today it is the most welcomed turn of events, something I’ve in fact been dreaming about for 3 years now. Unemployed. The blessed adjective that prompts people to look at me with pity as I think in return – I’m the one who should pity YOU. I thought that working will provide all the answers whereas it barely left me any time to think. It was funny how I used to look forward to my daily commute as it was the only time I had for thinking. And reading a book. And spacing out too, staring into the window but seeing nothing. The rest of the day was just a rat-race.

So now I have one of the biggest luxuries in the world – time! And my head is spinning from all the things I want to be doing in the next several months and it already seems like even all this time will not be enough. I want to stay active, so sleeping more is not on my list, but I also want to have those unproductive days when I just enjoying doing pretty much nothing. I want to travel deep into my head and explore all the concepts I’ve pushed off getting into because they required time, and solitude, and silence. But I also crave hours of non-thinking, just blessed being without any whys and whatfors. 

I need to fight off a dangerous temptation to disconnect from the world because as precious as solitude can be, it quickly turns into loneliness mixed with depression if “consumed” in excessive quantities. I don’t want to underestimate the power of having the right people in my life, so I turn my messenger back on and accept invitations for lunch. And I have to plan out my days and stay active, else I will fall prey to laziness attacks, which is really depression in disguise. 

I don’t know what this summer has in store for me… Will I heal? Grow? Transform? Degrade? I just want it to be something more than just another season lived through and forgotten. 

P.S. Only my own photography moving forward, need to justify the purchase of an expensive camera right before losing my job…
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