On the path

It always takes me forever to put pen to paper. I read other people’s work and feel a tinge of imposter syndrome. I think about how the process of getting to a finished and polished product and it makes me buckle at the knees and the knuckles of my fingers fold under the computer keys, complacent to possibilities that are both clear and murky. That’s what creating is like when you feel less than. When you feel that your ideas don’t matter. When you feel that you don’t know how to say what it really is you are feeling. You say to yourself, “This is going to take a hell of a long time before I figure out how to materialize this.” Then, I think about all the negative aspects first and the actual writing part is delayed ten-fold. I think that the preludes to my writing (the thought process and actually getting ready to write) is always the longest, and what takes about 80% of my time. The actual writing process, in reality, is pretty short. Astoundingly short, in fact. So, here goes, pen to paper, let’s see where it takes us.

Today I listened to the Writer’s Almanac as I tend to do on the weekends if all is going calmly and with little action. Garrison talked about the life of Charles Schulz. A person of seeming fame and fortune and one who said: “My whole life has been one of rejection. Women. Dogs. Comic strips.” On this rainy Saturday afternoon, those sentences fell like heavy pings on my well-worn, century-old cottage roof.

Imagine…if someone like Charles felt this way, then, shit!

Pero da igual… I guess rejection knows no bounds. It’s worth mentioning however that I feel like in my life rejection is mostly me making movies. Haciendo películas. And by this I mean that I’ve been the one that has embodied the rejection and it has become me. In this way rejection, in whatever area of my life, is made alive in a way that it would never have had the chance if I hadn’t given it feet to walk with.

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As some of you may know, these last few months I have been working with a coach. With her I have been doing some work to unearth the direction I want to take in terms of a career. I know this may sound perfunctory to some…Raquel is all over the place and doesn’t know what she wants so making up her mind in terms of a career direction seems like the only route she could go on. And this is true. I have been all over the place and I haven’t had much clarity on what it is I actually want to pursue. After my first job out of college, the one that brought me to the Bay Area and I worked with homeless youth for four years I realized the possibilities before me were vast and I had to try many different things out that have led me to some realizations this past month. For once in my life, in what seems like years, I know exactly what I want.

If one good thing came out of the awful results of the election is that my desire in this world surfaced with the assuredness of a cooked gnocchi. How quickly this realization floated to the top of my being was rather exciting. Although it still feels a bit raw, and putting it into words for the universe to see is even rawer, I know that this particular morsel is ready to be sampled.

I realized that my obsession of pouring over study abroad magazines as a first-year college student stemmed from something real. I realized that my childhood spent abroad in countries and continents I barely know how to call home all mean something more. I realized that my formation as an educator, taught to facilitate learning for others, is something that I can do outside the walls of a traditional schoolhouse. I realize that I am a person that wades through the waters of ambiguity, and change and, in turn, it has prepared me and positioned me to be a person that accompanies others in these uncertain currents. I realize that my heart is ready to follow this passion of working with students and organizations on their journey outside of what they currently know into what they will eventually become. I will explore and experiment with study abroad and gap-year organizations to find a good match for myself at this point in life and to build a foundation for the autonomy in this field that I eventually want for myself.

I realize the direction I want to go in my life.

I’m going there no matter what.

The path is laid out even though I don’t really know where it is going.

I’m on it and that’s all that matters.

So here’s to the path of opportunity! Here I go. I hope to see you along the way.

As part of my coaching I have done some visualizations that my coach has helped guide me through. In one this past week I was able to visualize myself as an outsider. Something I have dealt with my whole life but haven’t really gotten to process it completely. It’s always interesting growing up in a culture that is not your parents. Then, moving to a culture that is, in fact, your parents, you are rejected by society because you don’t know how to fit in. At this point in my life I tried my hardest to fit in and after a few years I realized that I didn’t like the person that I was becoming—it wasn’t me but a part of me that I teased out to appease society. Then I tried to become “myself” again. This whole process of identity formation, in general, is one of soul-searching, trying out new things, testing the waters for what makes sense and what doesn’t. From this time in my life I was holding on to some baggage that hasn’t been helpful in my current journey.

While talking to my coach I visualized myself walking down a path hauling a ginormous suitcase on wheels. The seams of the grey luggage are frayed and the zippers barely close around the bulk of the contents inside. I drag the valise along with considerable effort and I hunch over so as to get enough momentum to move forward. While a walk along in this manner I realize that this suitcase I am carrying is the part of me that feels like an outsider. It’s the part of me that speaks to me in hushed tones and addresses me with negativity and low expectations. However pertinent these feelings may seem at the time I realize now that this baggage is no longer conducive to moving forward on my path and doesn’t allow room for the excitement I feel for the new direction my life is taking.

I’m asked how I want to leave the baggage behind and I say that I’d like to put a cardboard sign on the suitcase that says, in all caps and black sharpie, “Free (take what you need and leave what you don’t behind)”. And so I do just that and I leave the sign and the grey bulk behind, without even looking inside first. I’d rather not know what the hell is jam-packed in there.

And with my first step on the path without the wheels of worry and resentment at my heels, I feel an enormous sense of relief and of freedom. And in the new stance I stand tall and in my in my new cadence I found my rhythm, I have room to claim what it is that I want since I have shed the unnecessary things from my life.

I let go of all the negative self-talk and low expectations of myself and I embark on a path that I am not totally certain of where it will lead.

I claim a path towards my passion.

On my journey I embrace an easeful approach with excitement, wonder, and anticipation.

I will embody these qualities during the onset, the process, and the conclusion of an experience.

I encourage lightness of being and taking things in stride.

I will take things in and breathe them out—letting go of them when I no longer have use for them—I will create a cyclical process mirroring what nature has intended for me.

I will take what I need and give away what I don’t need for re-use.

I am aware that on this path there might be barriers or challenges that come along, and people that I come across, so I will embrace compassion and caring for myself and others and try to be mindful of these circumstances along the way.

I will capture a sense of trust in the energy that I’m putting out into the world.

I will cultivate trust in myself and other forces that I can’t explain.

Because it is only by moving forward, sometimes blindly, that we are able to finally see where we are going based on the feeling we get—that feeling in my gut that makes me realize I am doing the right thing.

 

Passion Personified

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View from the Fort Napoleón in Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe. Overlooking a giant “pirate” ship with sails down.

The poets among us know that when things creep up in your system the only way of getting them out is words, arranged on a page, in a way that only a poem can transmit. And so I share with you today what has crept up from my feet, through my legs, up my spine, and out of my head:

 

My passion for you, like any other passion,

Billows like wind in the sails of a gargantuan boat

And as the wind comes in and out of the sails

Swelling back and forth

Breathing in and out like a beast

But remaining small in relation to the great expanse around

The ocean that contains.

The boat, the sails, the breath—contained.

But my passion is hardly enclosed

And I remain curious, expectant, at how

In the grand scheme of things

Will I ever.