Yesterday I'm looking down in the pan of tempeh and spinach I'm sauteeing for lunch and have a disturbing moment of self-awareness.
"Hey, Brooks!" I shout to the next room. "Can you come here for a second?"
A moment later he's standing next to me at the stove. I turn off the burner and face him.
"Look at me," I say. "I drive an aged Subaru station wagon, I have dreadlocks, I am at present eating a soy product in a recipe I got from Whole Foods (a destination arrived at in said Subaru wagon), I wore Chaco's to my massage therapy job today (a destination arrived at via combination of bicycle and public transportation). I employ the use of reusable shopping bags and bottle food grown organically in community gardens."
He stares at me waiting for me to come to the point.
"Bro-oks!" I demand, clearly distressed. "What has become of me?"
"You're hard-core, Jenny." I understand from the way he says this that this is common knowledge. Common to everyone but me, that is.
I have to sit down. After a moment I counter, "Then why don't I identify with those kind of people? In fact, why do they bug me just looking at them?"
He jumps at this. "I don't know, Jenny. What's the universe trying to tell you?"
Great. He's doing to me what I often do to him when he's having a strong reaction to a person or event. It's my belief that these kinds of triggers mark some unresolved issue that, if carefully and honestly considered, will usually reveal exactly what it is followed by an opportunity for resolution. I want to be irritated with him at first but then the curiosity over the underlying issue distracts me.
"Hmm," I answer, more to myself than to him. "What could it be?"
The answer to this particular question isn't long in coming. I have deeply held, albeit outdated belief, that the work of determining my path in life is best left to someone or something else that knows what's best for me but that that person or thing is almost never me. I have evolved over the last few years to the point where I can actually trust my judgment and inspiration to guide me. I am also learning that it's not necessarily a question of which path is best or right (a belief that often paralyzed my decision-making process) but rather which path resonates with my authentic self and respects the rights of other people at the same time. To make my own decisions without deferring entirely to outside sources has been a challenging journey full of insecurity, false-starts and poor choices. I have felt resentment that the ability to act for myself has not come easily. When considering my reaction to people for whom it seems it does, I realize I feel jealous. I envy their ability to charter their own course in life, even when it may challenge tradition or societal norms. This surprises me because when I ask myself whether or not I am free to do the same, the answer is yes. Even though I am currently living more or less in harmony with this idea, I guess I haven't quite married the old and new way of being; all external signs point to yes while internally I may still be struggling with no.
Hmmm. As my friend Bekki says, this is good information.
It's now Sunday morning as I write. It would be pretentious to say I have this figured out or that I even know exactly why I'm writing about it. Brooks comes into the living room where I am and pauses in the doorway. I look up at him and say as much. With his signature reassurance he says, "Just let it be what it is. Just let it be."