Imagine the conversation: I tell another what I wish for and what I want. I speak from my heart. I speak out of a slight frustration of sensing I am misunderstood and wanting to “get the record straight”.
They answer, “Are you really sure you know what is best for you?”
It is a shocking statement. While I am sure my parents, former spouse, some once friends and maybe indirect associates have all wondered, “Does she know what the hell she is doing?” I can most assuredly attest I do not make rash decisions. I do make quick decisions, but it is because I have a quick mind. I fast pace through problems like a speed chess player. Do I make mistakes? Surely, I am not infallible. The difference is that I am willing to make the mistake. And once I make a decision, I stick to it with earnest, until all hope is lost. But I was not built for martyrdom. I am not a patron saint to the lost cause. I am not kamikaze to the war effort or the POW beaten into passivity.
I take my lumps. I roll with them. If it is my responsibility, I do it. I carry it. I own it. Often I carry for others. It is meant to be helpful and kind. Unfortunately, helping others often leads to resentment for having such a heavy load and being unappreciated. It also means the person whose burden you have lightened misses out on dealing with their own responsibilities. And there is great value in adversity. It is in the crucible we are changed. It is in the forge we are shaped. There is no progress, no transformation, without grueling, pulverizing adversity.
So, do I know what is best for me? I am pretty sure. Could it get better? I hope so. In a matter of 72 hours I will turn 44. I have never looked at my age and heard a clock ticking. And I am more in the moment now than ever in my life. I did not get here without deep discernment. Changing the structure of my life permits me to change how I function. A bound foot eventually deforms, unwrap it and it may return to its proper shape. Restrictive lung disease eventually suffocates, but you can survive with supplemental oxygen. If we have faith that we were created a particular way with a particular trajectory, is it not true and right to listen? And to whom shall I listen? Your voice? Or my voice? Am I to live a life of your design or mine? If I love myself, I trust myself. And if I trust myself, I listen to my own heart. And I should finally question the binding of my feet. Some nips and tucks cannot be undone: dock a dog’s tail and it does not regrow. But, so much of the human spirit can be restored. And so yes, I know my own heart. I know what I want. I know what is best for me. I may not know the path and for this I am willing to take risks and make mistakes. What I am not willing to do is carry all of my parcels and burdens AND all of another’s just to one day, maybe, by chance, get to that place. I know I divert myself and forgo my freewill when I accept another’s parcels and burdens. I surrender my life’s trajectory to theirs. But a promise to myself is the first promise. At my birth, nay at my knitting, a spark was given and a purpose made. There is no ceremony, no vow, no certificate or contract. But my life is not completely my own. And when I listen to THAT part of me, that ancient and distant remnant planted like a seed at the moment of my creation, I am more confident today that I am moving in the right direction.
I have knocked an entire novel out of my head. I have a creative charge long tamped down and restricted. I have a home designed, a house and a parcel of land I have doodled in my head for many, many years. I can hear this house, see the lights in the windows, the shade and shadows. The echo of footsteps. I am a passionate mother and adore my sons. I like them as individuals and love that now, who they become is as much from their own choices as it is from my mothering. I have refocused my work, regaining a passion for the art of practicing medicine. I have found other women who are raising children and who are also doctors; they seek the same balance I always wanted and I love being able to create a practice that is truly a family practice. And I have made new friends, women friends, which have long been absent from my life. I have come to accept the structure of my family and its brokenness; I have accepted it as the parameters to how I function in my own relationships. It is but an ingredient to how I was formed, it is not ALL of me. And like physics, sometimes it is the force that leads to action and sometimes it is the reaction to that force that brings outcome. I have much to be thankful and I am eager to move forward. But I will not miss today because I am standing on my tippy toes, trying to look over the crowd at what lies ahead. The “goal” is not winding through the crowd control maze for Space Mountain.
Life IS THE MAZE.