Tuesday, August 3, 2010

letting go

Part of me always hoped (to be perfectly honest, expected) that there would come a moment sometime in my mid-twenties when I would be Enlightened. I'd gain knowledge in a flash of what it means to be a Grown-Up and How to Balance a Checkbook and Act Maturely in all Relationships and see the world free from the cloudy lenses of my emotions and anxieties.

To be perfectly honest again, this has sort of been my religion. Hoping for the day when everything would be perfect, when I would be whole. Hoping for wholeness to come from marriage, from my career, from a beautifully decorated home and a full wardrobe and lovely friends. This is what I've put my trust in, what I've had faith in. And I've liked to think that everything, every little thing, is a stepping stone on my journey to clarity and wisdom and a God-like worldview.

When I was nineteen, one of my good friends from high school killed herself. And I remember thinking that she just didn't get it: the goodness of the future, the hope for what's to come, the love of God. And to a degree, I still believe that to be true, while recognizing all the complications of deep depression to preclude you from seeing the truth. But some of my journey has been and continues to be this struggle against a moment. Our lives are made up of choices, and hard work, and there is no magic moment. There are setbacks and deep valleys and there is a good, a very good God whose deepest desire is not that I know everything he knows, or become immensely wise, although those are good things, but that I live with him in peace and joy and not in fear.

My deepest fear is that I will keep waiting, and I will spend my waiting on managing others' impression of me. That I will shop and talk and not really listen and complain and smile and wait and wait and wait until my life has slipped away and there is no time to wait anymore. There is a new country, as Henri Nouwen writes, where my real life is ready to be inhabited. And I don't get there by waiting, but I am so afraid sometimes of leaving behind what I know to go somewhere unfamiliar. I think that if I had that moment of Enlightenment, of growing up, then I'd be ready to walk forward untethered to fear or anxiety.

So if I'm not waiting, then what do I do? That's the question that rings in my ears when I feel brave enough to ask it.

There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out
-The Avett Brothers, Head Full of Doubt


ZT said...

I'll go travel to that country with you. Our voyage to that place began a few years ago.


collin said...

interesting that you've been waiting; i've been rushing, foolishly. i guess neither one is very good.

Laura Ortberg Turner said...

well said, collin. i don't know a much better, more helpful life and spiritual discipline than being in the moment. nor do i know one that feels harder or more elusive!

katie said...

As a new follower to your blog, just wanted to thank you for this entry- so beautifully describes the 20-something conundrum! Thanks, Laura!

Tara said...

I found your blog through Shauna's site, and so glad I did. I feel like you took the words right out of my mouth (I've actually been writing very similar thoughts!). What is it about out mid-late 20s? I'm starting to think that it's actually our late 20s, not our late teens that we enter the gritty world of adulthood. :)