A life is built one choice at a time, one decision, one selection. The proverbial, and at times, literal, fork in the road. Go high? Go low? Swing right? Veer left? Head up or step down? And too often, as time passes, we shed parts of ourselves, like a rose dropping petals. I prefer to think of time, and my life, as a perennial process, seasonally falling dormant so fresh, tender, hopeful growth can mark a resurgence. How spectacular might it be for a dogwood to drop it’s leaves in winter and when leaf buds arrive in the spring, apple blossoms arrive beside the powdery white dogwood flowers? Can we not become more? Can time encourage growth and original – maybe even speculative – versions of ourselves? Can a teacher become a soldier? A lawyer conduct an orchestra? A doctor write a novel? In our youth, our elders encourage us to pick a path, something to BE when we grow up. We are told to narrow ourselves. I had a swimming coach admonish me – and my mother – that I could not be a “Jack of all trades”. I needed better focus. At thirteen, this coach warned my mother that if I did not fully dedicate myself to swimming six days a week (instead of the five I was swimming), I would never be successful, I’d never get a swimming scholarship. At thirteen, just one year into ovulating regularly, a respected elder in my world told me I would fail if I did not narrow my scope and be LESS, seek less, reach for less. Abandon curiosity, seek no new adventures, explore no new horizons. Contract. Constrict.
And I bucked the notion. Frankly, it pissed me off. I was a curious child. I am still a curious adult. I want to learn something new everyday. Accepting that I do not know all that can be known keeps me humble and engaged. I may be less sure-footed but I shall endeavor to learn new things, experiment and understandably – be willing to FAIL. Because, failure is the force that instructs growth and change and development. To cease trying, to quit attempting is to accept the final state of existence. And to declare, “This is all I will ever be.” I shall endeavor to always try something new and to continue. To not be done.