It isn’t often that I am willing to give up the driver’s seat (all that power, all that control) and let someone else do the driving for a while. Even if it means that I will have a chance to sleep or read a book while someone else negotiates the road construction and the semi trucks blowing past. Even though I know the rule that grants musical control to the person riding shotgun. (Usually, I just pray that the person in the passenger seat falls asleep, so I can resume sovereign rule over the music, too.) Even though I sometimes don’t get the best look at something interesting or beautiful along the way, since I have to keep my eyes on the road. If I’m not in the driver’s seat, I spend the whole time wishing I was driving. (Though I try not to help the driver drive. Really.)
Yes, I’m a rotten passenger. (And, apparently, a bossy driver.)
In the past couple of days, Mr. H and I have had a few good conversations about how we want this next phase of our lives to go. It’s too soon for me to announce our plans (since they’re not set in stone–more like poured cement that is just starting to firm up), but we’re definitely farther along than we were a few days ago. I felt like he heard my concerns, and he responded as I hoped he would. I will keep you posted as the weeks pass.
After my post two days ago, you all left wonderful comments (thank you). I was already on my way toward figuring where to turn next, but a few things have become even clearer since then.
Above all, I need to feel useful right now. I know that my children depend on me, but I also feel the need to do something of value out there, in the world. I think (hope) I can manage to serve both their needs and mine.
Coincidentally (serendipitously?), I got an email this morning from one of the schools to which I was admitted last fall, asking what my plans are and if I am still interested in their historic preservation program for this fall semester.
Ah, the timing.
I knew already that I didn’t need to reapply to that school as long as I continued with the registration process within the next year. But, the fact that they contacted me right now, in this window of time, felt like a sign to me. Not that I needed one to move forward (I would have contacted them in the next week or two), but it never hurts to hear that maybe I’m headed in the right direction.
You may have seen this on my Quotes page, but it’s one of my new favorites and it came to mind today:
We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well…How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
–Paul Bowles, American writer
He’s right. The years, the chances, aren’t limitless. And I’m arriving a little late in the game. I want to say yes to opportunities. I want to step through doors. I want to walk down paths that wind and curve and lead to a moment in life that might feel like a cool, dark forest or an open, pounding surf. I want to be challenged. Maybe even surprised.
I might even surprise myself. In fact, I’m almost sure of it. (I have to feign at least that much certainty, even if I’m not convinced just yet. Fake it ’til you make it, right?)
It’s a tall order, all of this, and I know it. The fact is, my life right now feels small. There are blessings, many of them, and I think I have a good understanding and appreciation of what they are. But I also know that I am not working at my full capacity.
Yes, I know I’m hard on myself, but I also know that I don’t push myself hard enough. Those are two different things.
I’m not diminishing the importance of the time I’ve spent (and will spend) at home with my children. That has immeasurable value. But there is also value in setting a different kind of example for them, one that lets them see their mother writing grant proposals or working on site on a preservation project. To not do any of it would mean wasting the passion I feel about those things.
I’ve grown a bit tired of my unease and restlessness. This other need is loud and riotous. I can be content in moments, like the one I experienced last night, on that drive with my family. But this other pull that I feel? I believe that if I feel it, I should follow it. When it tames itself, or burns down to embers, then I will have something to look back on that wouldn’t have existed if I didn’t allow myself to be pulled along with the force of that need. Who knows what will happen?*
I’ve decided not to sit in the passenger seat of my own life, asking over and over, “Are we there yet?”
Instead, I think I will turn up the music, settle back into the driver’s seat, and answer my own question.
*Besides, if I tell all of you that I’m going to do something, I have to live up to it. I do better under pressure.