Sunday, September 21, 2014

Who am I?

Today I stretched my legs on an alpine trail, and thought about my life.  I wondered what I wanted, what I've already got, whether I am living the life I'm meant to live.

I am not.

And I'm sure of that.

Don't get me wrong, I see very clearly the many blessings that are mine, and I think I mention them here all the time.  I am incredibly grateful for my middle class privileges, and I don't take them for granted.  I am downright gleeful over my strength and resiliency, which got me through cancer and then divorce, when both times the odds were stacked against me.  I'm grateful for supportive friends, a loyal dog, a funny cat, and big big dreams.

But I'm not living my full life yet.

I look around me at the people who feel so absolutely certain of their paths, and I'm envious.  There are those lucky lovebirds who coo at one another, content in their relationship, sure that the arms of the beloved is where they belong.  I look at certain stay at home mothers who run PTA meetings and labor over gardens and go to book club and seem really happy, and I know that I don't belong with them.  I look at corporate friends who have skyrocketed through their Fortune 500 companies, collecting larger and larger paychecks, and I envy them the cash but I have no desire to do what they do.  I look at some in nonprofit, who dedicate their whole lives to their various causes, and though I feel an affinity, I know it's not entirely my path, either. 

Hiking today, it occurred to me that I am not a marathoner.  I might actually run a marathon to prove that I can and to get my body that fit again, but despite the high of running, I don't want to spend my time on pavement. (I want to spend it in the woods, where I so clearly belong.)

I dove into the lake today, on the last day of summer.  Fed by glacial melt, it was not in the least bit warm, but the day was unseasonably warm, and my hot, sticky skin - doubly warm from trekking up hill with a pack on - was glad to be in that cold water, even though it made me gasp.  I am meant to dive into alpine lakes, and I know it.

But I do not wish to swim in alpine lakes all day every day, even assuming that somehow I could find a way to do that without starving.  It's something I do more than most people, but not a life.

I love my job, because it feeds Katherine and I and allows me to keep my house and stretches my skills and does something good in the world and gives me a future, and perhaps I will do this kind of job for the rest of my life, but it is not enough, either.

And I adore, absolutely relish, being Katherine's mother.  I am proud to help her study for geography quizzes, to drive her to gymnastics, to eat my meals with her.  She makes me a better person, and I can't imagine my life without her, and she is the closest thing to heaven I've ever seen.  But she is not all of my life, either, and I need more than she can give.

Who am I?  What is the shape of the life I want?  If I could wave a magic wand and have my days go exactly as I wished....what would I wish for?

It is horrifying to consider the answer.  It makes my stomach hurt.

The answer is, "I don't know."


Today as I hiked I considered the question, tried not to panic that I am 45 years old and still learning who I am and what I want from life.

I've thought for ages that I am an extrovert, and yet I find myself seeking solitude.  I've thought for ages that I'm a city girl and only a weekend nature girl, but lately all I want is to be away from wires that hum and crowded streets, and I want to be surrounded by wildlife and trees and open seas.  I've thought for ages that a small-ish life was enough, that I was grateful to have enough and that is all I wanted.

But I want more.


There is a level of exhilaration to considering all that might come next, if I decide what I want and then go after it.

Terror, too, but also exhilaration.

I am clearly a slow learner.  Around me, all around me, there are people who seem more or less content.  They attend their Seahawks' games, go to the play or the movie or the concert.  They sit down to mac'n'cheese from a box or farm-to-table feasts, as they prefer.  They have their favorite shows.  They get their hair done, their cars detailed.  They grouse about their kids' homework, and they help make flash cards too.  They fight 25 pounds or they go out for a run, and they don't change.

I am all over the map, because I WANT TO FIGURE IT OUT.

I am not content with merely being.  I sit and try to meditate, and try not to scold my monkey mind.  I live in the small moments, taking pleasure in them.  And yet, despite all this work at being in the moment

But I want more.

I want my life to be - big.  Meaningful.  I want to leave my mark on the world, not only on the people who see me in the street or share my table or my work meetings, but the big wide world.

Is this ridiculous?  So few people live lives like that.  Through the centuries, people are born, and people die, and while they're here they live lives of either quiet desperation or suburban nonchalance or beautiful clothes or something else, and then they're gone, and within a generation they're forgotten.

I don't care who remembers me when my grandchildren are dead of old age.  But I want to make something of my life, do extraordinary things, and use up every single last minute of the life I'm given, finding my talents and doing something with them.


I still want to fall in love, but I am not focused on it at all.  I am trying to focus on growing myself, my talents, my being, into something bigger than what it is.  It's work, it's motherhood, it's being a productive citizen.....but it's something more, and I'm trying to figure that out, too.

I feel like I was put on this planet to do something, and it's about time I tried to figure out what that was.

Who am I?  What stops me from being that person?  If I could make any life, what would it be?

I'm working on those answers now.  I'll let you know when I figure it out.  I don't have the answers, but I think I'm getting closer.

Stay tuned.


Do you know who you are?  What were you put on this earth to do?  Are you working towards that goal?  How do you bring it to reality?

How many goals can we focus on at once?  Can we be marvelous romantic partners, community activists, parents, friends, employees, fitness buffs, world travelers....all at once?  Can we do all of this without losing sight of any of it?  How can we work towards those goals without losing sight of the beauty of the present moment?

I have more questions than answers, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Pollyanna- I think people are continually wondering who they are and if they are doing what they want to do, what they are meant to do. Plus people change. Like you said you thought you were an extrovert but now crave solitude. So I don't think it awful that you're thinking about this and are 45.