Monday, August 01, 2011
When I Grow Up...
“When I grow up, I’ll be stable.” ~ Garbage
MTV is 30 years old today.
Where was I when the moon man landed? Eagerly awaiting following in my big sister’s footsteps at Cato Elementary School. That’s right kids, in mere weeks I would be a kindergartener. Look out world.
I grew up with MTV, and music shaped my life. Music was a constant in the midst of an unstable life. And as the people & places around me changed, the music traveled with me. If I had trouble adjusting to a new school or situation, I had no trouble whatsoever appreciating new music that was laid in front of me, and my appetite for new styles and artists was unquelled.
Reading Rainbow promised me I could be anything, but MTV exposed me to the buffet of possibilities.
Back then my plan was to be married and have eight kids (like the family in the Babysitter’s Club books). My career choices ranged from Marine Biologist (science was not my strong suit) to Fashion Model (I never sprouted past 5’2”), so I obviously had clear expectations for my life.
As I have remained single these 35 years, I have been forced to define myself beyond what I do (question number one on everyone’s list) and who I belong to (our relationships being the other prominent classification of individuals). I’ve realized the career I thought would be most fulfilling was the most draining & damaging to my emotional health, while what may appear to be a mundane job can actually bring a lot of joy. I’ve also made a concerted effort to be more than simply a “lady in waiting”.
What I also find if I really open my eyes and look around is that this is true for those with jobs they love, and those searching for jobs. It’s true for those who love their spouses and children, and those who are still learning to be vulnerable in relationships. We all need a definition and a purpose beyond those external circumstances, because so much in this world is beyond our control.
The good news is, kids – I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. And it’s not predicated on how I earn money to pay my bills, or who I cuddle up to at night, or if I produce offspring. Those are all good and beautiful things, but it seems that so much of my early experience in the Church was focused on the importance of avoiding sex until you find someone to marry, and then having sex so you can produce and raise moral children. True love doesn’t wait. True love has been mistaken for sexual lust and repressed to the point that we’re scared to live and move and have our being in its midst. Screw that.
So, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?
(No, Twisted Sister fans, the answer is not “I wanna rock”.)
I want to live simply, below my means, in a way that frees me from the stress of gluttony & greed, while freeing me toward gracious giving.
I want to value stability, truly planting myself into a people and place, without fearing inevitable change.
I want to lean into community, embracing all of its messiness and chaos.
I want to practice discipline, in my spiritual practices, in my health, in my pursuit of creativity.
I want to write and wrestle and pray and wonder.
I want to listen deeply to those who are seldom heard, and to find the hard truths present in their stories.
I want to notice the burning bushes all around me, to find God in the midst of the daily and the ordinary and the simple.
I want to ask the really hard questions of my Creator, even if it takes a lifetime of listening for the answers to unfurl.
I want to take each day as it comes to me, and learn to let the future worry about itself, to follow the Word Made Flesh one step at a time.
I want to abide in the Spirit, to allow fruit of love and peace and patience and joy to grow roots in my life and produce sustenance for those I encounter.
I am less concerned about where the journey leads, who will be with me and how I will get there – I just want to enjoy (or at the very least learn from) the experience as it opens up before me. After all, the present and my interactions therein, is the only thing within my grasp. What has been, what will be, what if… none of this is within my realm of command.
Recently, I’ve come to terms with the fact there is more potentially great music out there than I can wrap my mind around. I can’t afford it all. I can’t ingest it all. There will be some really great artists whose words I’ll never hear. And there are some really crappy songs wedged in my heart, claiming an inexplicably permanent spot. It’s enough to enjoy to the music I will encounter, to listen to the lyrics I am privy to, to be shaped by the stories of a few artists, to be moved by the rhythms that will wander across my path.
I want to be content.
And I want to be utterly delighted.
And that is enough.