From early on, from the age I could assert myself, I chose freedom. It was not an easy choice; it meant disappointing some, angering others and distancing myself from all that had happened before. It meant taking perpetual risk and forsaking things, situations and sometimes friends.
But the alternative, to travel life on a prescribed path, full of certainty and safety, seemed like death to me.
So I ventured. Over and over, I would feel the unease of a life that was too sure to be right. And at that moment, something deep within me spoke and pushed me to take some 90 degree turn toward something new.
There is a novelty to this that is alluring. And one must not be seduced by the allure of novelty alone. Because that in itself becomes just another addiction.
When the heart speaks to us, though, and tells us “this is no longer right,” or “there is something more,” it is time to take action. Sometime this means reflection and repair and reconnection, sometimes this means exit.
I have done both many, many times. It means that every day I’m awake, I have more questions than answers. Freedom and uncertainty go hand in hand and so walking on the rocky path of the unknown, step after step, mountain over valley, can only be done with a guiding light. What is this light?
Some days, I wake up and I am confused. I wonder how I got here and whether my choices were good. I look back on those times that I hurt others or was hurt, and I feel the pain, the tremendous weight, of those choices. What choice to I have? To retreat in despair? No. The choice has to be to go on, and vow to learn, to have gratitude for the lessons of history, but to never let it define the future.
Lately, I am tired. I find myself longing for an instruction manual. Someone, just tell me what to do. There is no booklet for this life. For single motherhood, for careerism as a woman, for trying to balance all the pressures of work and family and society, while still taking care of oneself. The tightrope of self-sacrifice and service. When to talk and when to listen. And when to simply bear silence.
But then, if someone tried to tell me what to do, I surely wouldn’t listen. I’d probably go and do the opposite, arrogant as ever. I have always learned the hard way.
When I realized this, a smile came over my face, because the manual, the answer, the guidebook is always the same, no matter what the situation or circumstance. The answer is Love. Always. That is all we need to know and the light that illuminates all great paths.
There is no need for a plan. The heart knows. Moment by moment. All we have to do is listen and respond. Or, if we are confused, we only need to stay still. As the echoes of love immortal will emerge softly but powerfully, like waves on the shore and sunlight cresting over the horizon at dawn.
The answer is already there. It is always there, even if it is hidden just now. It will be known, and if we accept its guidance, there is no false step to be made. Only love. Only now. Patience. Peace. I wish this for you, for me, for us all, especially at sunset.