Sunday, February 14, 2010

Seeking the Seemingly Impossible

Two weeks back in Missouri and I’m, as Norah Jones so gracefully hums, "feelin’ the same way all over again." I love family and mom and dad fill a hole that nothing else in this world can, but here I am again – recharged, confident, and ready to go back out there and get what it is I am looking for. Which prompts the question so regularly posed that I hear it in my sleep, "What exactly is it, Jessi, that you are looking for?" More often than not, I can only answer with what I don’t want. Recently, however, I picked up a book in which the author puts into words what I more or less want to say. Speaking of why he decided to dedicate his life to initiating philosophical dialogue in coffee shops around the country, Christopher Phillips, in his book "Socrates Café," writes:

"Before I made the commitment to start Socrates Café both my personal and professional life had ceased to have meaning for me. Many of my nearest and dearest would have been surprised by this revelation. Many of them envied my life. For over a decade, I had been a writer for national magazines. I traveled a great deal, met fascinating people. But I was deeply unhappy. I frequently asked myself: ‘Why can’t I just be normal and accept the fact that jobs are not meant to be all that fulfilling? Why can’t I accept the fact that most adults end up abandoning their more youthful and idealistic aspirations?’ The answer I came up with was always the same: Because life is not a dress rehearsal. Because I shouldn’t settle for less than doing exactly what I want to do with my life, despite the risks, or, better, because of the risks. My philosophy of life had always been to live intensely, to love intensely. But I hadn’t done that. . . Nietzsche said something to the effect that one should strive to live dangerously, and I think what he meant was that we shouldn’t hesitate to take sublime risks with our lives."

"I think we all have some unique ability that we can transform into our life’s work and passion. . . Because if you don’t find that job that feeds your passion, that makes you excited to get up in the morning and give everything you have to your work, then what are you left with?"

Live intensely and love intensely. Take calculated risks. Live dangerously. Give everything you have to your life’s work. Find what feeds your passion. Thank you, Christopher Phillips, for putting into words what it is that I am looking for. I want to feel alive every day of my life. I don’t want to be numbed by routine, security and a false sense of stability. I don’t want to look forward to television and my couch. I want a morally rewarding life purpose that, no matter how small, betters the lot of humankind. I want to wake up in the morning with a determination to give my work every ounce of my energy. I want a job that deserves every ounce of my energy, creativity and passion. I want to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that I stop working to make myself a better, more whole human being or forget the suffering of others. I never want to stop learning. I want to speak three or more languages. I want to visit every region in this world. I don’t want to ever lose my childlike curiosity and wonder for the world and humankind. I don’t want to grow old inside. If I can’t move geographically, I want to be moved intellectually or emotionally; I want continual forward movement. I want to discover what I was born to do. I want to be continually challenged and I want to challenge others. I want to push both my own, and your, limits. I want to be outsmarted by others and then make them my close friends. If I can’t travel the world, I want to discover new worlds in my mind. I want to die with a smile on my face because I did everything in my power to live my life to the fullest.

Yep. I know. I’m a dreamer. Damn right. I’ll keep looking until I find it. Granted, I won’t find it all at once or anytime soon. I’ll hit wall after wall. I’ll take wrong turns and go backwards. I’ll wallow in doubt. Some days I’ll feel like throwing in the towel and settling for a life less fulfilling and exciting as I had hoped. I probably won’t have benefits or a retirement fund anytime soon. Need I remind you that people around the country WITH "secure" and "stable" ("real" gets a good laugh out of me) jobs are losing those nice benefits, if not the job itself? There is no security there anymore. A large retirement fund which allows me to travel when I’m not watching television all day? I think I’ll just live my life now, while I am young, mobile, healthy, cancer-free, comfortable with few comforts, flexible, arthritis-free, dependent-free, adventurous, and have zero mortgage, car payments, bad hips, or a strict diet due to health conditions. Looking at my retirement-age parents, I doubt I will be any better at sitting still at 65 than I am at 24.

Besides, what other choice do I have? Sell out on my childlike aspirations because they were proving too difficult to realize? Give up and live with the subsequent long-term, gnawing disappointment and insidious self-resentment because I stopped believing in myself. Live but not be alive, just going through the motions?

Nah, I think I’ll just put on my helmet and ride this crazy notion. Bruises and bumps are better than a broken soul.

*This blog post facilitated by Jem’s "It’s Amazing." Download it.

1 comment:

Megan Biram said...

I love this post. I will be buying that book tomorrow. I feel the same way.