23 May, 2018

Vision Quest

The vision quest. It's at the hidden, secret heart of any culture. We Americans (and maybe western culture as a whole) tend to see it as self-indulgent, with our bootstrap mentality. This idea that what we need is inside, and we need to free it, and that experientially there is a full range of this endeavor... it feels big, challenging, hard to chart.

A year ago, I read Elizabeth Gilbert's account of her own year long vision quest. Longing for my own big, wild, love cave of traveling adventure, I agonized for weeks, then casually ran into an interview with Gilbert in which she said that while her privilege allowed her vision quest to be epic and to span continents, you, we, us, don't have to go on a 52 week long trip to have the same experience. I think I stared at my desktop screen in a typical blue-light stupor and nodded.

But here I am a year later - give or take - and I am a different person. I am awake to who I am.

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." - E.E. Cummings

And who I am is, admittedly, kind of weird, sort of messy, but beautiful, funny, smart, witty. I have whole worlds inside me, begging to be released, the bring with them truth and awareness. I'm such a baby of a writer, author, but I'm learning, from others and myself as I go. I hope some day my works will be on the shelves of indie shops and burning up the scales of Amazon, and I'm charting my course, orienteering as I go, because frankly I'm clueless beyond just sitting and writing. My own adventure has me on the edge of my seat.

Oh, the bigger vision quest journey, though... right?

A couple of years ago, I went through an emotionally tumultuous period, and that darkness may have prompted this inner journey. Bad news pinged all the time, nationally, locally, and awakened in me the skeletons of my adolescence. I spent time digging them up, cataloging the bits and pieces, displaying them, and exorcising the demons from them, before I slid them into a silk pouch that I reburied in my heart safe and sound, with the awareness that I couldn't leave those experiences exhumed forever. I repacked them, and there they reside, informing my freedom, my understanding of the world around me, my empathy, my choices, my creativity. I try not to hold grudges any longer, and also work to protect myself from anything that might trigger the return of the darkness.

Always, my creativity has followed me, whether I was writing stories in third grade, dreaming of clothes I would like to create, drawing or painting, crafting papers for political science and history, or now, realizing goals I've had since I was just a kid. I fill my days now with creative projects, and it isn't always easy or playful, sometimes hard work bears down on me.

On those days, when creation feels more like dredging up the dead from a cloudy, dank lake than what I call the birth of Venus days, I keep going anyway.

I used to give up when whatever I attempted felt complex, challenging, or hard, because somewhere along the road to now I picked up the notion that if creative endeavors weren't easy, you were doing it wrong or you weren't talented. That has changed. I know the dredging days are just as good as the birth of Venus days.

Rambling. It's what I like to do. But here we are, and all I want to say is, find yourself. Find what you love, and do it. And if that path leads someplace, make a plan to just do a little bit every day, eating that elephant bite by bite. The world we live in will tell you to just keep your nose to the grindstone, to keep your blinders up. I entreat you to think differently, to think about what you have always wanted, to think about what you want now, to know that those things may be separate, and to realize that's okay.

Maybe you do that a few different ways, long walks in the woods, yoga and meditation, taking care of your body vessel, reading, rediscovering what you love (oh, film, you have a huge part of my heart), music, and stepping out of your comfort zone in all the ways. But this is your journey, not mine, and perhaps you do this by suiting up every day and digging into your pile of documents or diagrams, or by teaching sweet children and letting them be your guide, or by caring for others. Whatever your method, use it and follow your truth and your path and do your thing. Lose the blinders, and dig into yourself, because the world needs you awake and aware and loving your life.