Wednesday, January 02, 2008
(This image is my mine; all rights reserved; copyright; yada, yada, ya. Do not copy without MY permission...lol. Seriously though. Don't jack my stuff)
I have tilted on my axis...
Rather than worrying or wondering, today I DID something to move closer to a passion I have always had. In the past, whenever it came to mind or conversation, I had a perfectly good reason why I couldn't do it...But today the only thing that mattered is that I want to do it. So I am moving toward it. And I pray it comes up to meet me.
Risk is relative. In some ways, I have taken some pretty big risks and stretched a lot further than others around me thought I would or could. But I have known for a long time that I was letting fear keep me from pushing past the only expectations that mattered...my own.
If you've ever stood at the end of a high diving board or the edge of a cliff, you will know the sensation I felt in February 1992. This jolt of panic ran through me when I realized that I had actually made it through college. Not a big deal to a lot of people. To get to that point I had to rebel against family, friends, teachers, counselors. After I graduated from high school, I walked into a pitch black alley. No one had any advice for me, I didn't know how I was going to make my way at all. But I took a deep breath and stepped into the darkness. How was I going to get to college? Literally. And then, how was I going to stay? I never even thought about finishing or what would happen after. Every cell in my body was focusing on holding steady exactly where I was. In the abstract I knew in four years I would graduate. But it was like the finish line of a marathon, seemingly so very far away at the outset.
Since I had no idea what to do next, I felt like I had ran right up to the end of the diving board. To the very edge of the cliff. Stopping short just before I got to the point solid ground ended beneath my feet. Even though I was proud of myself for graduating, I did not have a sense that I could fly. So I wobbled on the edge...
For me that meant staying in graduate school. At first, I really enjoyed it. It was such a treat to spend a year in Los Angeles learning about something I loved and not being worried about anything. I thought the next move would come to me there. It didn't. So I did what someone else suggested I do. Not a bad thing to do. But not what I wanted to do. It took me six more years of graduate school and teaching to finally give myself permission not to continue doing what I had started.
Right before Katrina I had quit my job. Which is part of the reason I got nearly no assistance. I had, in fact, gotten the opportunity to pursue what I actually wanted to do but hadn't felt I deserved to pursue. But with the water and wind went my opportunity... Once again I kicked rocks.
In some ways moving to New York was a small step back to the edge. I always wanted to live here. In fact, it was a youthful dream. I like living here but I would be content to live somewhere else and I'm not sure how long I'll stay. But the statement was simply moving here at all. It was my way of thumbing my nose at disaster and stamping my foot on the ground. Fine then. I'll move to New York and start over. Sigh. That took so much energy. I got here and almost collapsed into a puddle again. I satisfied myself by encouraging other people to pursue their dreams and focused my energy on just sweeping away the rubble in my head after the storm. I have been doing that up until now. My silly posts. My small comfortable bubble here in New York. But a realization that I had last New Year's Day came to pass. And the reality of that chain of events caused me to question my risk assessment strategy and my crisis management plan. And finally, it clicked. I am already in flight. The last illusion of solid ground beneath my feet crumbled on September 29, 2005. There are no safe distances from life. And the only thing required for me to have what I have dreamed about is my willingness to do it.
Everything that I lost was keeping me in fear-- fear that I would make a mistake and fail. But I have realized that you can do everything you SHOULD, prepare for every scenario ... and you will still not be safe. I say all this not as a statement of desperation, but liberation. A couple of nights ago I was channel surfing and found Fight Club on HBO. If you haven't seen it, it's about a young man who encounters his own extreme and is pushed past every boundary. It is a violent caricature. And a fabulous allegory. --Hey I like Kara Walker, don't be surprised I love this too. Anyway toward the end the protagonist confronts the antagonist with all the chaos and ruin that has been created and the protagonist says in reply, "If you want to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs." I heard it and sat bolt upright. I say this ... all the time. I forgot where I heard it, but not that it directly spoke to me. In the movie the characters go on a psychotic spree. I have no intention of doing that. But I finally understood why that one-liner has been bouncing around my head for so long. Until I am willing to confront myself, until I am able to tolerate the certain terror and chaos that will ensue, I will never have the fulfillment of finding out whether I can fly. I could fall onto the rocks below or hit my head at the bottom of the pool. But really. That is the worst that can happen. And metaphorically speaking, I've already been pushed over the edge. Hell, literally speaking.
And I open my eyes and find that I am still here and still in motion. I must still be alive. And possibly, I have discovered that these wings I have work.