Steadfastness

Before you read this, check out an insightful post by author Catherynne Valente on what a personal singularity might mean. It certainly got me thinking about my expectations in life, about the road I’ve been walking.

What’s clear is that my life has constantly been full of surprises, unexpected turns of event, and transitions. When I first moved to Portland, I fully expected to spend the rest of my life there. And you could say the same thing about Amnesty International. In a sense, I’ve already faced any number of personal singularities – moments after-which I would have no conception of what my life would be like. I jokingly sometimes say that I faced my first mid-life crisis at 19 and have had a handful after that to boot. It’s almost old hat now – how often my life seems to re-invent itself.

Why is that I wonder? Some of it is surely life’s twists and turns. Also, there is the maneuvering required to meet adversity and take advantage of opportunities. But looking back, it’s clear there was a searchingness going on. When I gave up writing fifteen years ago (for lack of clarity, lack of discipline, and a general dis-spiritedness with life), I needed to find something to fill up the hole it left in me. I thought I’d found an answer in photography and in Amnesty International, both of which were amazing. Each became a true home for me to dwell in, but as wonderful and worthwhile as they were, there was still a very personal piece missing. My heart’s desire lay neglected.

I can’t say entirely why I left for London and the Development Studies program at SOAS. I was thinking a lot about suffering at the time and looking for ways in which I might play a role in easing the amount of it in the world. There was also a part of me, though, that was still looking for where I personally fit in, and I thought development might be it. Yes, I expected it to be a singularity, but I had no idea to what degree. (Which is I suppose the point with singularities.)

That’s the thing though – when you free yourself up to go exploring, you never know where it will lead. And in effect, that’s what I did. I had thought it was for a purpose (development), but once I stepped out the door and put my foot on the path, I let myself go. I let myself listen to the murmurs in the quiet places. Once that happened, there really wasn’t any going back. To do so, would be to deny who I am. Fifteen years is long enough, I think. I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer. No, I’m not published, but that doesn’t take away from what I am. From that which I love, that which makes me happiest. The difference now, however, is that I’m older. I finally (thankfully) have some clarity, the discipline, and the spirit to pursue this heart’s desire.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been walking a road not knowing where it would lead. I am just as surprised as anyone else at its destination. I know what I want, and I will get there. I just have no idea how, which is incredibly amusing. Before I had the road but not the destination. Now I have the destination but not the road. While I have tentative plans and am talking with friends about them, I am not certain where I’ll be in two weeks. At the precipice of the New Year, I find myself looking down into a very dark and murky future.

Did I mention that I’m afraid of heights? đŸ˜‰

No, this has not been an easy process at all. This past month, in fact, has been very difficult. I’ve been terribly sick, and as a result, very tired. I’ve been wracked with doubt and terrified about how to make it all work. I didn’t want to make any mistakes that would jeopardize making this dream a reality, but then I realized I was being foolish. I’m going to make mistakes. It’s impossible not to do so. The best I can do is to make path, one step at a time, just like I’ve been doing. I’m trying to be sensible about it, but at the same time, I have to risk. Change doesn’t happen without risk.

So what does this all mean? The immediate plan is to drive up to Portland for the immediate future and use it as a base for finding a job in San Francisco. Writers have to eat while they write, and San Francisco, my intuition is telling me, is where I need to be next. Am I crazy? The answer is probably yes. But it’s a path, and I’m sticking to it. Unless, of course, I come across another singularity, but one thing is certain – I know I will be writing. If it’s one thing I’ve learned, it is steadfastness. Especially for something which my soul yearns.

Will it be easy? Hah! I suspect not. It certainly hasn’t been so far. Terrifying, yes. And exhilarating too, when I haven’t been desperately trying not to hack up a lung. But like most hard things, I think ultimately that it will be worthwhile. There’s an underlying sense of optimism that just won’t go away. Some of that comes from having stared down adversity, but a large portion comes from my spiritual practice. No matter what happens, I know everything will be okay. Even when it’s not.

Valente talks about an “own personal singularity”. I’ve reached that point (again) wherein life changes and I have no conception what it will be like afterwards. After tomorrow. It will literally be a day-by-day affair. I’ve had some flashes of what it could be, my life as a professional writer, but in them I’m already established. The how I get/got there is missing.

I think it was Star Trek VI that called the future the undiscovered country. For me, it just got a whole lot more undiscovered, and it will be interesting now being traveler in that faraway land.

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~ by Samer on December 31, 2007.

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