Sunday, January 29, 2012

Girl with a Gypsy Soul: Or Coffee with My Brother

I have always resonated with travelers, wanderers, and vagabonds. Roots frighten me. When I was a young girl and I read tales of princesses, I didn't want to be the stereotypical damsel in distress. I wanted to be my own version of a questing princess who didn't just sit around waiting to be rescued but a princess who got the chance to travel the medieval trails on her own adventures. Somewhere along the way that girl got lost. To quote my brother as we sat in a coffee shop the other day, "I just feel as if your story got off track somewhere, Cat. This isn't you. You're in some kind of holding pattern. Your story is stalled, and you need to figure out how to start writing the adventure again." I've been thinking a lot since that conversation. Thousands of other stories and characters and lyrics and movie lines that echo my brother's sentiments have been running through my head since he spoke those words to me. Adventurers, those who live with longing, those who refuse to be content with the status quo, these are my inspiration. So, what am I going to do about it?

Sadly, first I'm going to research...key there, search, and then do it again. I'm okay with simple, but I'm not content with a small life, a small existence. I have hands and feet that need to leave prints behind. About two years ago I wrote this post, and there I talked about finding my roots and not turning from them again anytime soon. I needed roots at that point in my life like I had never needed them before. I needed something to hold me together, to hold me down, to anchor me deep into the ground, deep into the comfortable so to speak. Honestly, it was the only time in my life I have ever felt I needed that kind of stability. I rooted myself into that intense need and planted deep into good soil to find healing. I think I planted too deeply and got lost in the undergrowth.  Hence the holding pattern mentioned by my brother. I'm not sure if my story stalled in spring 2000 when I chose China as the place to travel to for a student exchange instead of choosing a place that more fit me and my talents. Maybe it was when I came home from that student exchange program early because I let the unknown and fear incapacitate me, or did it stall in 2001 when I left Truett Seminary? Did it stall out when I anchored myself into the profession of teaching, first in Central Texas, then Colorado, then North Texas?  I don't know? In these twelve years, I've been restless. I've felt an uneasiness that seemed to subside at times, but never really left me. What I have come to find to be true throughout all of these questions is that I am happiest when I'm traveling, when I'm getting my hands dirty, when I'm meeting a real need, when each morning seems like an adventure waiting to happen, even if the adventure appears insignificant at first glance.

Back to my roots and what I'm doing about them. First of all, this time I'm going back to my roots, but instead of planting them deep in the earth, I'm digging them up, brushing the dirt from them, and pruning them back. I don't know what ANY of this is going to look like, but to be completely cliched about the whole thing, I have one life, one chance to write my story. I can't continue to be stuck in a circular argument. I can't keep reading the same chapter over and over, revising and editing, trying desperately to make the same story work for me. I can't wallow and nestle into comfort and certainty any longer.  

In my youth, thoughts like the ones I type now would be manifestations of me running from something I didn't want to face, something I wanted to hide away from. Such is not the case here. The healing that came from planting my roots deep two years ago has made me stronger. That same strength though has made me hold tightly to what is comfortable. It's time to release the grip on comfort. What do I want to do? What am I going to do? At this point I don't know. It begins with the  search, the search for a way out of the holding pattern.

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