I’ll start this with a blank page. That’s where all good stories begin, isn’t it? A blank slate, a clean record. You don’t know anything about me yet . . . and maybe it’s better that way?
Better to leave some stories untold. Better to build fences and live behind walls. I’m human and you’re not – you, the great unknown, the great gods of Facebook and Strava, the ones who live behind fences of your own.
And yet here I sit, writing. Wanting to share, needing to share. Since moving to Knoxville, I’ve seen we can’t live our stories alone. We mortals are wired for connection – even us quiet ones . . . Well, this one is, anyway.
And so I sit, writing. Reaching, breathing. But what is there to say? Shall I tell you of my failures? My inability to find focus when I need it? Today I must write a critical paper on metaphor theory and Mandarin. Today all I want to do is run and wash my car, and sit here, and write. Have I chosen the right degree?
I didn’t announce my car accident on facebook. Only my good friends got to hear about that – and you, my readers. I might be a little bold sometimes and post pictures of myself or mention events I participated in or attended. But I can’t come out clean and stand bare beyond my fence. To do that would be to admit my mortality. Or worse – to appear to be seeking sympathy.
A friend recently expressed her concern for me. “You’re so hard on yourself,” she said. “You’ve done so many amazing things and have so much to be proud of. I hope you see that.” And I knew – she was right.
I have done a lot of amazing things, and hell yes, I am proud. Not everyone from the States can say they spent three years in Asia, bumbling around in a culture and in a language they did not know or understand. Not everyone went across the country for college, or has risked everything for a relationship that didn’t work out, or has left everything yet again to pursue an advanced degree in the name of personal fulfillment. Life for me is more than just a paycheck, or a fancy home, or boasting about what I’ve done from my comfort zone. But sometimes I wonder, at what cost? Wouldn’t it just be easier to go with the flow?
Yes, perhaps it would. But I can’t live my life that way. In the same way we mortals seek connection, we also seek meaning. Even the most stalwart at the end of their lives look back and wonder, “What have I done?”
For me, I hope I’ll be able to look back at my life and say, “I strove for perfection when perfection was none. I took risks rather than staying ‘safe.’ I dug in when times were tough. I found meaning through connection. I loved no matter the cost. I made a difference because I lived. I am human, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Never stop reaching. Never stop seeking the fullness that life has to offer. If that’s who you are, than that is who you are.
Thanks, Mark! You’re right — can’t change who you are. Hope your holiday season is brimming with brightness and beauty!
Thank you and to you as well.
i admire your admiration and beautifully said about life and you how you perceive it. the hoops we will jump through for a genuine way of living. but, who am i kidding that’s the best way to live ❤
Thank you! I believe genuineness is the only way to *really* live. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Can’t say better than that. Except be happy being who you are.
That’s a good point, Fraggle! I definitely fight perfectionism within myself. Working on it.
I think you’ve got your priorities right, Jess.
Thanks, Dan! Hope your holiday season is off to a great start!
I wish I could live too, not just exist. :)
Would you care to expound? You’re right that there’s a big difference between living and existing. I know I am very lucky to be even considering some of these questions. There are many places in the world where people’s biggest concerns are their physical safety and finding their next meal. It’s a privilege to be able to think about our “higher purpose” in life.
Well said – that is the you I know and love!
Hmmm now what poem by Frost are you invoking?
Careful or you will turn out like me…
Thanks, Hoss. I like this post, too.
Funny that you say I might turn out like you. My old coworker in Hong Kong said something similar recently when I mentioned wanting to skip out on grad school and just head abroad… She’s 60-something, single, and has lived all over the world. She’s pretty lonely these days, but I might take loneliness for the sake of travel.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both…” Sigh.
Beautifully Written! Loved it.
Hey, this is the link to my blog, a beautiful journey of two young souls.