I’ve been reading a lot lately, which is really something, because my default state is reading about 2.3 books (for pleasure) a year. But somehow, I have found myself mid-February, having already far surpassed my usual bar. The book I am currently gobbling up is called If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging, by Sharon Blackie. Now, I have absolutely no recollection of how I found this book on Amazon, but I am convinced that it was some sort of divine intervention, or guiding angels, or whatever you want to call it. The basic premise is Blackie’s personal narrative/journey to living a life of authenticity and belonging through claiming the strength of her womanhood in relation to her connection with the earth and Celtic traditions/folklore. It is much more conceptual and abstract and well written than that poor one sentence summary, with poems and Celtic folk stories woven in here and there. But I hope you can kind of get the idea.
Anyway. Reading this book has given me the confidence and voice to put words into a part of my own journey that I have been having trouble naming.
So I am going to try to give the long version of the answer to everyone’s favorite question(s): What am I doing/working towards/studying and what are my career/life goals and aspirations. I don’t know if people are actually interested in this question when they ask it, but it seems to be all anyone knows how to ask people in their 20’s.
I want to start by sharing a short excerpt from Blackie’s book. She is telling about a small coffee shop/antique store she stopped at in the hills of Wales with her mother during a rainstorm. She found this beautiful jug with the inscription: “No star is ever lost/ we once have seen/ We always may be/ what we might have been”. Now, to me, this is quite profound. I had to stop and read it several times before I moved on. (I am also just a naturally very slow reader). She goes on to ponder what she might have been, and what star she might have seen. She says,
“All I know was that it shone brightly in a place that wasn’t given over to the Wasteland. It shone down onto the top of a grass-covered hill at night as I sat watching it, head back, gazing up into a sky undimmed by light pollution. I closed my eyes and I saw myself getting up from that hill and walking down through the brightly painted wooden front door of a simple stone cottage, sitting in an armchair by a glowing stove, reading a book or maybe even writing one. I saw myself waking up to the nascent promise of each new dawn, taking my morning tea outside, listening to birdsong and the bark of a vixen in the wood. I saw my hands in the soil, my feet cold and bare in a fast-flowing river. The person I saw wasn’t anxious, alienated, brittle. It wasn’t her job that defined her, but her way of being in the world. She looked as if she belonged. Not just to a star, and a hill, and a cottage; but to herself and the calling owls, and the wider world she inhabited.” (Blackie 89).
So I guess this is kind of what I wish I could say to people who ask me what my goals are and what I am working toward. But I suppose it might be a bit much for small talk. This passage really struck a chord with me. I read it several times, weeping harder each time I read it. (I am a Cancer, and we are generally very emotional, so don’t worry, crying is usually a natural and positive part of my everyday life). But more than anything, this passage has given me validation. I have been feeling really calm lately, as this part of my journey is taking shape. I have no idea what the hell I am doing. But I know one thing for sure. My life, and who I am, will never revolve around a job or career. It will be my way of being in the world that will define me, and I don’t know what that will look like, but this seems to be the only unknown in my life that I have actually come to accept. I feel strongly that I want to be connected with the earth. I feel strongly that I want to belong somewhere, whatever that means. And I feel strongly that I will never stop working on becoming the best version of myself.
And yes, you in the back who is thinking that I am a crazy person who doesn’t understand how basic finances work–I get it. I’m no dummy, and I know that to have a cottage and tea and fuel for my fire, I’ve got to have an income of some sort. BUT. I trust myself more than anyone in the universe. And I also trust the universe. So with those two, (plus some good karma), I kinda feel like I’m gonna be okay somehow. And I’m surprisingly not freaking out about that part yet. So I’m just going to ride it out for now, and let it develop, but I am enjoying shaping the end goal right now, even if the journey itself doesn’t have a shape yet.
So to those who are still asking, “So what are you actually doing- you crazy nonsense woman?” I will say this.
I am getting an education because it is important to me- but it does not define me. I am reading a lot, going to therapy, and constantly working towards becoming my best self. Even these things don’t define me. I think a lot about ways in which I could make a life for myself, writing, teaching, entrepreneuring, (yes I made that word up), making, helping, doing…. And these things still don’t define me. The truth is, nobody knows what they are doing. And they don’t know if they will be doing that thing in 2 years, or 10 years, or if they will change their thing 20 times over their lifetime. And that’s okay! Because it’s so weird and crazy and kind of awful that we live in a society that defines us by what we do, not by who we are and the space we occupy. So I ask you to try letting go of the things you feel do not serve and define you, and to see what it feels like to view yourself and the people around you with a lens unencumbered by definitions.
Thank you for being here.