Saturday, January 15, 2011

10. Courage to face a crocodile (Part 1)

I've been having very vivid dreams for the past month or more, many of them involving crocodiles, alligators, sharks, giant gorillas, and other ominous and threatening creatures (perhaps surprisingly, Rush Limbaugh was not among them). In nearly every one of these dreams I find myself at an edge-- most often of a body of water-- which I somehow, intrinsically, *know* that I must cross-- and which I am simultaneously terrified of crossing.

The symbolism here could drive an English major into a delirium from which she might never return. Because really, the timing here is so perfect: I have been a college graduate for more than a year. I have just completed a fixed term of employement, and (until four days ago) was facing a new year with no job, no home to call my own, no academic constraints, no health care payments (thank you, Obamacare!), no children, no exclusive partner, no pets, no car-- hell, not even a concrete dream (at least, not as pertains to careers).

In short, I am, completely and utterly, free of any commitments.

It would be easy, in this situation, to focus on all those "no's" in that second paragraph-- to look at my life and see nothing but lack. NO job? NO home? NO car? Good grief, does the girl have anything to her name?!

That would be easy. But I think it's possible to view this situation in another way: I see the absences left by all these "no's"-- and I see them as creating a whole lot of spaces that can be filled. And what is marvelous and thrilling-- and, yes, scary and unnerving-- is that I get to choose how to fill them. Me. Myself. I.

More than any other time in my life, I am coming to grips with the fact that my life is completely my own responsibility. And so perhaps I was too hasty when I said that I don't have any commitments right now. Because I do still have one infinitely meaningful, infinitely important commitment: the commitment (which we each carry, I think) to myself. For myself, I must make a life.

In the past, to varying degrees, I have shunned this responsibility. I busied myself with fulfilling the commitments that society/other people/my own tendencies made for me: homework, extracurriculars, homework, making my body "beautiful" (read: acceptable), homework, work duties, volunteerism, depression, relationships, more homework. None (or at least, most) of these things are inherently "bad", obviously. But they do become problematic when they are used as a means of avoiding absolute responsibility of Self.

In the past, these were my crocodiles: the "responsibilities" that become excuses for not actually living the life you have imagined for yourself, and/or the life that you are called to live.

Over the years, gradually, and with some missteps and some backsliding, I have fought off these motherfuckers. And now here I stand, having shed most of my excuses and much of my baggage, poised at the edge of a cliff.

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