How easy it is to fall off a life path, hellbent for a series of ditches, and then spend years trying to scrabble your way back! For lack of a vision, people perish, I always believed, so even in ditches, I kept strong visions of what was possible at work, at home, in love and community and friendship (basically everywhere)—all out for service and giving and connecting and treating others the way I would wish to be treated, no matter what the cost or how readily I might fail at it, either—and then left no stone unturned trying to live up to being the kind of person I had to be for the visions to become reality.
What I never fully understood is that this level of commitment leaves you wide open to being of use—but little value—to those you value most. (It also wears you down to the bone and then some.) Life is a funny-turned teacher, hellbent on curve balls and sliders: it pitches down the straightaway with nary a pause for reflection. There are no managers or umpires or referees to call foul or fair, only the learner facing the pitch. (And the people who value you for yourself alone, warts and failures and visions notwithstanding: these souls are rare, but always there, if only you remember to notice. They are just easy to miss when your focus is on being good enough for everyone else.)
Today I had a happy moment in my current ditch and was inspired to a simpler, single goal: I will no longer abandon or forsake myself for some vision of what *could* be with someone else or on some endeavor. What is is enough. There is an enormous sense of relief in calling your own Time Out, dropping the bat, and walking off the field to regroup and come untrained from the pain of trying to be of value.
For a few hours, I felt only a great yawning emptiness within, and sadness offered itself up as ready a companion as ever, but peeking around its skirt-tails was my own genial self, rising to the occasion—bequeathing me with this simpler, more satisfying goal—and I now feel my own life smiling on me. For the first time in a long time, perhaps even forever. The old paths are gone, but my toes are on a new one, and I have no clue where it’s headed. All I know is that I’m going. Untrained. Eyes wide open, the sole captain of my little rowboat, ready for whatever the heck pitch comes next.