It’s hard to pack up your life, any time, even when you’re just moving down the street. It’s a little more puzzling and wistful when you’re packing it up for an unknown place at an unknown time. So far–packing has been both boring and delightful–what makes it delightful all are the things I look at as I pack up that remind me of all the good things I’ve been lucky enough to experience. I often have the tendency to focus on what didn’t happen, or what went wrong… but in truth, I’m learning it’s often how you choose to spin it. I got to fall in love with a wild surfer boy in coastal Ecuador. He never did love me back–but, how many people get to fall in love with strange and beautiful men on strange and tropical coastlines? What do I want to focus on–the fun we had, or the ultimate rejection I faced?
This has me thinking about something that has been on my mind for a while–the delusions we choose to have. When things don’t go our way and get difficult, do we delude ourselves into thinking that it will never get better, that we’ve ruined our lives? Or we delude ourselves into thinking that everything will turn out alright? Both thoughts are delusional because neither is entirely based on reality–but I do believe thoughts can help create our reality. So, perhaps we should choose our delusions wisely.
It’s been hard lately. I’m days away from making all of this official, from turning something I think into something I know and actually do, something everyone will learn about, something I cannot crawl back from. I think this is the scariest part. It’s my last chance to back out, to not do this, to do what’s easier or more convenient and certainly less frightening and risky. For days my mind has felt like it was being rubbed against a cheese grater–should I really leave? Am I doing the wrong thing? Am I leaving for the wrong reasons? Is everything my fault? Maybe I should have tried harder, done something different! I DO love my students! I have all this new art supplies in my classroom! What the hell am I doing!?!?
But as I was packing up tonight, I looked up at my “word wall”. It’s a mass of white papers taped up in front of my desk where I write down all my ideas and words that inspire me. The words “mass wasting” caught my attention. Mass wasting is when rocks and sand and soil fall from up high to down low. It’s when they break away from whatever ledge or hill top they’re clinging to and make their descent–to the flat lands below, or perhaps to the sea or a river or lake. It’s essentially gravitational erosion, the inevitable fall of things from high to low. It’s often caused by things like earthquakes, floods, the loss of a root system, or excessive structural pressures (like buildings or roads) that the ground can no longer hold up. I personally do not see this as something sad or scary, instead I think it is quite beautiful. If we can choose our delusions at any time, then I think falling can be beautiful. It can mean you’re free from whatever had been holding you back. It means you’re moving, it means you have a destination. It means change. It means unknown outcomes, which can indeed be exciting.
My whole perspective has been shifting lately. I’ve caught myself looking at people previously I might have judged and instead was asking myself–how do you know? Maybe she’s really cool! I’ve been imagining getting rejected from job after job after job (because of course that’s my greatest fear in this process), but I’ve instead found myself thinking that maybe it won’t be so bad. I can work through a temp agency and go home to the stories I’m writing that my mind will have more space for. I’ve imagined myself in total panic, worrying this was all a huge mistake, but I’ve taken solace in a birthday card I received four years ago. It’s an illustration of a girl at a fork in the road, and she is going left. The top of the card reads “DON’T LOOK BACK!” And the street sign above the girls head reads “Your Life” and the sign above the road she did not choose reads “No Longer an Option”. I think that’s a little freeing. Scary, but freeing. What I choose is what I choose–anything else in my past will no longer be an option. Even if moving DOES turn out to be a huge mistake–isn’t that still a little exciting? It’ll mean I have at least tried, it’ll mean that despite my fears, I went for it anyway.
And I’ve always been a girl prone to bizarre and illogical fears, but for the past six years, my fears only seemed to intensify, both doubling over into themselves and also accreting mass. This was not supposed to happen as I got older, I have often reasoned–wasn’t I supposed to be overcoming them? Perhaps, but life is not exactly linear. I could be wrong, but I think that a little fear is only a magnet for more fear, and pretty seamlessly, you can find yourself lost in an ocean of it.
I realized the other day, waiting to board a plane to Atlanta: I’m actually afraid to not be afraid. As uncomfortable as it is, fear is something I’ve become accustomed to. I’m almost reluctant to let it go. My delusion says it protects me; as in, as long as I’m afraid of those things, they can’t touch me. Every time we hit a bump in that flight I felt my body stiffen with fear. And every time, I forced myself to try and let go, relaxing into the fear rather than fighting against it.
Pieces are beginning to tumble, and it’s starting to feel good as I stand here, watching them go. Thanks to the center of our galaxy, thanks to the sun, thanks to the molten core of our planet, and its ceaseless whirl, gravity tugs on all of us–things will always fall if they can. I’m starting to anticipate the free-fall with excitement and not dread. My whole life has pushed me to this edge–to back away now would be to deny everything that has already happened–the only thing left to do is let go, to step out into nothing and see where it takes me. Of course–injury is possible, as is getting lost, as is wishing I could undo it–but I’m ready for whatever’s next, however difficult it might be.