I've been in a rush most of my life. When I was a little girl (I mean, REALLY little), I would draw what my mom dubbed "Beau People". But they weren't Beau-People; fictional characters like Barbies for me to imagine and play with. My drawings were slideshows of a life I wanted, and the future I hoped would play out. I would draw scenes- like still shots of a movie. At 3, 4 years old, I would sit with a pencil and a notepad and sketch out everything I thought I wanted and deserved: I would draw myself at 13 with a sweet cut-off-the-shoulder sweatshirt (a la Saved by the Bell), babysitting a couple neighborhood kids. I drew my 16 year old prom date and the stretch limo we'd ride in. I drew myself holding microphones, or sitting at a piano, or in a business suit, or surrounded by stacks of papers, feverishly writing. I drew myself in Disney-inspired wedding gowns, marrying Prince Charming, and later, having 3 perfect children, a fluffy dog, living in a mansion. Penciled smiles and expressionless glee. Really beautiful...on paper.
I don't know when it started, but I feel myself slowing. Not in an "I'm getting old" way, but in a "hmm...this isn't worth rushing" way. Those of you that are reading this and know me are probably raising your eyebrows right now, as I have been aptly dubbed by many of my closest as the least patient person in the world. But this isn't about patience; it's about a concentration of effort, an acknowledgement of significance, and the development and execution of goals: Real goals that hurt, and inspire, and shift things and break you and build you and make you go through hell so you can come out on the other side better and stronger and more inspiring than you were before. The thing is, I've gotten so much of what I "asked" for in my "Beau-People" drawings- I got my good on paper; my on-the-surface. And I'm not scared to admit anymore that that's not enough.
Did you know psychologists are actually dreaming up a term (maybe they already have?) for facebook-induced depression? Something about "facebook perfect"- how people only ever put their best selfies online, and joyful documentaries of their perfect children that seem to be leaps and bounds beyond your own developmentally, and virtual tours of their spotless homes. We all know that's bull. No one lives like that...No one loves like that. These snippets of "perfect" are leaving the door wide open for all of us imperfect folk to feel inadequate in our decisions and our paths. I think (and apparently so do psychologists) that facebook has become like one giant Vogue magazine, only starring people we know: Completely unrealistic, airbrushed (or instagrammed) images of a life that is so far beyond most peoples' reality that we all just feel we might as well give up.
Yeah, I get that, and sometimes I feel that, too. But what I'm feeling right now, is actually the opposite: I'm sick of perfect- or at least perfect as we've known it. Perfect is a word like "beautiful"- it's relative to the eye of the beholder. You know what I want? Depth. Passion. Strength. Achievement. Purpose. Direction. Inspiration. Earth-shaking, soul-stirring, inconvenient, insane, unconditional love. Because perfect, these days, seems a dime-a-dozen. Somewhere along the line, we as a society, or maybe just I, as a 3 or 4 year old with the power of a pencil, redefined perfect as being a circumstance, when in reality, it was meant to be a feeling that encompassed all those glorious, messy desires I just expressed. Perfect wasn't supposed to be something you could buy or marry; Perfect was supposed to be something that happened, that grew, and that spilled from your heart into every aspect of your imperfect circumstances.
Time seems to move faster and slower all at once when you begin to tell the truth. Roads magically appear where there were none, and lights that seemed as if they'd always glow for you go dim. I wonder if this isn't part- an incredibly important part- of growing up. Like, really growing up. I think we all, in some way, at some point, reach this place- where you feel like you're alone in a desert and there is no path, and there are limitless paths, and it's up to you whether you let the overwhelming reality of nothingness and everythingness overrun your ability to make a decision. You can just decide to stay still, or you can embrace the uncomfortable unknown and pick a course- any course- knowing that staying still is not an option worth living for. We make silent and not-so-silent promises to ourselves (and others) that if one course doesn't lead to something awe-inspiring, we can always turn around, touch home base, and re-choose the option to stay, or try another option to go, but I think ultimately, any journeyer knows that once the decision to leave is made, the option to stay disappears...it just makes it easier to walk away if you're allowed to keep the faith that any goodbye is simply temporary and not irrevocably hinged on the decisions you do or don't make.
My Beau-People seemed to have a timeline till about 30 and then it's as if my 3-year old self either didn't know or didn't care what was next; as long as I reached all the circumstantial milestones I set. In some ways, this makes me a bit sad. I'm at the end of my "little girl dreams", and I feel like something that unintentionally and subconsciously templated my life has served its purpose. But then, I'm kind of excited. I don't know what's next, but I have some really crazy, ambitious, beautiful ideas for what it might look like...No- that's wrong; I have some really crazy, ambitious, beautiful ideas for what it might feel like.
So that's why, although still impatient, and quick-to-move, I am sitting on my plot of desert, and I am feeling the weight of the past wash over me and I am allowing the potential of the future to strengthen me. It is not staying still: It is honoring who I've been, and deciding, with purpose, conviction and love, who I'm going to be next. Because in time that will seem both too short and too long, I will stand up, look at the vastness of all that could be and mourn the loss of what will be given up in order to receive what will be given. And then I'll start walking with intention; towards something, strengthened by all the chapters of the Beau-People I've lived, and ready to explore the uncharted territory my 3-year old self could not- or maybe would not- tell me was waiting beyond the pictures. And I'll keep the faith that maybe the chapters that were unwritten and unforeseen were so epic, so beautiful and so chock-full of adventure and love that they were simply indescribable; unable to be captured in a drawing, or a facebook post...only able and meant to be felt in the moment in which they came to life. I haven't seen the slideshow for what happens next, but I'm really excited to see what's coming.