When I was a little girl, my mom swears I hated dance. I never remember hating it, though. In fact, for as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with dancers, form and line, and love to dance to nearly any type of music. So I laughed at the question when Colleen, who sat across from me giving me an I’Ching reading, asked me if I danced? I recalled my looking up adult dance classes and wondering if I had the nerve to show up to one. I remembered the conversation I had with Jillian only weeks ago about indulging in this latent dream of mine. Do I dance?
Days later Ted would sit across from me and explain how he felt a shift in himself, like a move from a prince to a king. The metaphor stuck with me even though I wasn’t so keen to call myself a queen. I was, however, very interested in what that transition meant. I called our trip his coronation. Fitting because “ceremony” was very appropriate given our place and company in New Mexico. And as I began to feel a similar shift in myself, I struggled to put language to exactly what it was I felt I was or what I was becoming.
“You know how when you make a decision that’s so spot-on you feel it resonate with your capital-S-Self and you just feel a weight lifted, almost like this great peace washes over you,” I asked Annie. She shook her head yes indicating that she understood where I was going, so I continued. “That’s how I felt when I decided that academia is not for me,” I declared. It still feels so good to say out loud I find myself mouthing the words even as I type them. Later with Brittany, I went on, “if I have to live on peanut butter sandwiches but I’m in love with what I’m doing. That’s worth it to me. Because at this point higher education feels like wool on my skin.” I’m dramatic. But that’s the point! I’m dramatic. I’m bold and outspoken and I can own a room if I choose to. I am a colorful spirit governed by freedom and I am meant to fly, not grow upwards from one place.
It is certainly not to disregard academia nor its constituents, after all it is the process of obtaining my doctoral degree which taught me best how much I do not want this life. “I’ve been holding back,” I wrote to Ted. Wanting to say so much more and tell him all the ways I had. The many struggles against hypocrisy I’d had which almost always boiled down to art over form. No one had a good enough reason of why we had to do things a certain way and I desperately needed to know, finding precedence an insufficient response. I deeply admire my teachers and professors who have found their own art within the walls of ivy towers; for many years my admiration of them kept me safe within the confines never quite fitting in but certainly mastering the ins-and-outs well-enough. It is because of them that I feel confident in my
knowing Knowing that my stay here is expiring.
When I am my truest self I find others in awe of me, much to my chagrin. I am not looking for admirers. I am looking for other daring souls to challenge me, push me, inspire me, and break me open. While certainly in academia there is access to absolutely brilliant minds, by and large there is still a great appreciation and reward for those who move through the system draped and fueled by tradition and western pragmatism. It feels so counterintuitive to me more often than not, to be obtaining a degree touted to mark the contribution of new knowledge in a specific field yet in a very particular and specific way. I am not meant for this world. Even my most favorite inhabitants of this world exist on the perimeter whether they would agree with that statement is unknown. It is certainly subjective. And as I said the words out loud the weight of all my years of trying to fit, do what I’m told and be agreeable, lifted off my chest and I could breathe.
I’d been the nail who stood too tall, marking herself as a target for strike. If I was my most authentic, I was a complete anomaly. Systems, I’ve found, don’t too much care for the enigmatic. I still remember the conversation with my Chair: “People do not like to sit in discomfort.” “Maybe you should teach them how.” Do I liked discomfort? I wouldn’t assert such a claim normally, and I am not even sure of its accuracy at present. What I am sure of is that I do not like complacency. I like to push and prod at boundaries. I like to be told “no” and fight for my “yes”. I like questioning and uncertainty that catalyzes clarity and intention; the split second before disaster when it all becomes clear and you know exactly what to do instinctually.
Exiting the labyrinth I realized that all the answers to my question, “How could I best be of service to God?” We’re about my own self awareness and self improvement. Listen. Trust. Fly. Lean. Cry. Grow. Clean. Look up. They were instructions for me to live my very best life. I could best be of service to God by being my best self because it is that being who can best fulfill her purpose. It was so clear it was as if I always knew it. Well, because I did.
So I told Ted, “While I do not resonate with the royalty metaphor, I have decided to live my life full out.” Like dancing full out, when you are encouraged to rehearse as you would perform which makes sense because this is it. This one life, this is the only August 7, 2015 I will ever get. I need to live it full out. Which means following my callings and indulging in that which truly nourishes me.
For far too long I have sustained myself by overindulging on things which required copious amounts because they were lacking in substance. In my life I was consuming spiritual junk food rather than soul food meals. No more. I cannot afford it, and now acknowledging the truth, it makes it that much harder to ignore. I need nourishment. Real sustenance. I need to be fed in a way that is loving and ripe and filling. And I mean this in all facets of my life. I need to be fed in such a way that reflects the appreciation I have for my vessel and my spirit. That includes literal food, relationships, career, hobbies, etc. I need to live as though I love myself. That is what living full out means to me. As though my life were on purpose and has meaning, because it is and it does.