ruthless compassion (aroraborealis) wrote,
ruthless compassion

when opportunity knocks...

I've had moments, in the past, where a curtain is drawn aside, and I get a glimpse of something, whether it's a direction I'd like to take, or an idea I'd like to pursue. These moments aren't scattered, but the really powerful ones are. It's like an extraodinarily clear day when you get a view into the distance that you don't normally manage to see, and you think to yourself, "I'd like to go there, and see what it's like."

A problem I have, like many others, is that there are lots of these places. I had big ideas about the work I could do in multiculturalism, for example, when I was doing a lot of facilitation back in college. I thought about getting my PhD in religion, as a way to get to the heart of what it means to be human, social animals in search of meaning that we are. I once even considered going into politics as my means of changing the world.

Most of these paths have fallen by the wayside for any number of reasons. I got distracted by other things, or the road seemed too long or boring or what have you. Largely, I think it's because I'm comfortable. It's hard to push into a fast-moving river with hidden rocks and dangerous currents when you're just wading along in the shallows enjoying the cool water on your feet and the sun on the rest of you.

It turns out, though, that if you're made for fast currents, the wading gets old after a while, and maybe sometimes you get a flash of what it might be like to be midstream. Maybe you wade out a little farther to check it out and see how it feels...

I'm not saying I'm made for fast currents, but it's starting to become clear to me that I'm in the wrong place. I don't know what the right place is, but...

I'm beginning to feel like I may have a sense of the direction I'd like to take my life. It's not a surprise direction. In fact, it's a direction that I've considered many times in the past, but I've declined to take it because it's scary and hard and the way isn't clear.

Two years ago, though, I woke up with the horrible feeling that I was wasting my life, and I made a big, scary, hard change to get to a different place. Guatemala was good for me on many levels, some of which I still don't yet know, I think. And it was good. I was happy to return from there, too: eager for the joys and comforts of home, friends, familiarity. This year has been a great one, and a time to reground and clarify.

It's easy for me to get caught in ruts, though, and if I'd found a job this fall, I probably would have. I didn't know what I wanted to be doing, and so, whatever came along might have caught my fancy for long enough to bring about the inertia that it took me so long to overcome at Harvard. So I think it was lucky for me that the few jobs that seemed appealing didn't take until I'd decided that I would shoot for the Peace Corps.

Now, I feel like I'm in one of those transitional moments, where I can take the hard road or the easy one, and probably the hard one will suit me better, but I'm lazy, and certainly it's a lot more work to go the hard way. But what I'm beginning to wonder is if maybe the easy way won't just be less rewarding, but will be actively depressing, in a slow, hardly-noticeable way. I think I'm a better person when I'm going the other way.

It's easy to let these things go. Tomorrow, I'll wake up and feel less urgency, and the next day, I'll sleep in and read email and enjoy the comforts of home, and life will continue as usual.

But I hope I won't.

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