I didn’t expect to be here at this time in my life. Few of us ever do.
For the most part, we usually envision ourselves further along this straight path, having conquered and come up victorious numerous times over by now.
But as I lay in bed the other night panic-y, restless, certain this wasn’t how things were supposed to be, I thought about how (excuse my language, mom) shitty life can be. It’s down right traumatic at times and makes me want to curl up under my covers in the fetal position.
There’s always something in our way isn’t there? Be it internal or external, the obstacles never let up. They aren’t going away. Why?
I am not sure it is mine to know or worry over.
And in my hurry to explain, I also don’t want to paste God’s name on top of it all. It’s only been in the last couple of years of my great unlearning experience, where I’ve had to give up on God as my cosmic teacher trying to give me a lesson through every trial.
So, there I am lying in bed just a little irritated with where I’m at, where the whole world is at, and searching my soul for a solution. An answer to ease the pain of the present, of the truth that here I am still wishing for success that doesn’t seem to be manifesting like I had hoped and prayed it would.
The images started flashing before me of all the ways I had once pictured my life at this stage. They are pictures of good things, honorable things, and world-changing things.
Then, the narrative begins of: you’re just not being intentional enough. That’s why life hasn’t panned out for you yet.
I remember a friend once told me to my face, in a time where I felt I might have too much on my plate, that if I would only chart out my days to the minute, I would see that I have more time than I realize to accomplish my dreams and desires. I probably could make them all happen if I just played tetris with my time.
Trouble is, detailing my days in this strict manner, fails to take into account the raging river of life flowing just beneath the surface of our structured agendas.
Life has a way of pulling us in, sweeping us off sandy shorelines and surprising us and our make-it-happen mantras.
Our lives never add up the way we were told they would- if we only put our mind to something and work hard, we can accomplish it.
But sooner or later we all discover, in the dark of the night, we cannot construct our existence on this earth within the squares of a calendar; it’s way too wild for that.
After spending years of living in Africa and Europe, I am more aware than ever of how we venerate big dreams in this country. The American Dream is alive, and it’s not making any of us well.
Attempting to attain mini-celebrity status and over-sharing our sacred seasons and spaces with the world is making us all sick. We show off our beautiful homes and glassy existence, without a second thought to how someone else might see it. We don’t even stop to consider the wealthy, white perspective we come from, and how toxic it is to 90% of the world. (I’m speaking to myself here first.)
So many, many of us are walking around jaded from these loud, exhausting messages.
I’m trying to reassure my thirty-something self that maybe life was never meant to be one big progress bar like my culture tries to perpetuate. Maybe life isn’t a linear pursuit of consuming and acquiring and gaining: more money, more land, more stuff, more dreams.
Maybe the success I’m wanting is actually found when I allow the quirky, spiraling path of messed up plans and failed dreams, unfulfilled longings and daily disappointments lead me into the unknown.
Maybe life is a movement, but a choppy, stop-start, up-down movement that looks an awful lot like a ragtag adventure full of convoluted and confusing questions, constant dead-ends, and bewildering scenarios.
Taking a step back from our dreams and the soil from which they grow up in is scary, revealing, revolutionary. Only then do we start to see how mixed up they are with our sneaky American culture; how utterly offensive they could be to a woman on the street whose simply wants a warm meal for her child.
Could I dare to pare down my dreams, identifying where my individualistic, consumerist tendencies have tainted and morphed them into something monstrous and maniacal? I hope I can.
I want to dream with the women who envision a world where we are all cared for, seen, and heard. A world where our dreams are rooted in nothing less than the simplicity of loving one another and honoring this invisible, intricate web of connection we are all a part of, and many times that means abandoning our big dreams for (seemingly) smaller ones.
I wonder if these aren’t the wildest most wonderful dreams to work on and walk towards? The kind that let life be out of our control, the dreams that give life space to whirl us deep into the spinning eddy of what matters most.