My friend Pat works with a group of engineers. Never having worked in an engineering firm before, Pat thought that engineers developed products by perfecting an idea into a precise drawing which was then made into a perfect prototype and, from there, put on the market. Now, after seeing the experimental methods that are basic to creating new products—oh, maybe this material, oh, that didn’t work, let’s connect the fastener to the plate, what about not using a plate?—she finds the process more random, more exploratory. “That’s how my life has always been,” she says. “I’m an explorer meandering forward and discovering random opportunity.”
We are constantly creating ourselves, discovering who we are by being in the world. Maybe we don’t always feel like we’re up to speed – we can be so hard on ourselves – but we are “meandering forward.” This is what it is to be human, to create a life, to keep going as we age. There is no precise plan. It can be scary to be well and whole, and yet not have it together like we think a truly together person would.
I heard Sandra Cisneros interviewed on public radio. She has written several books and many volumes of poetry. Around the time of the interview, Cisneros had been chosen as one of Ms. magazine’s “Fearless Women of the Year”. “Me, I am afraid of everything,” she laughed.
I bought her book, Loose Woman. Her language is raw and passionate, honed like fine pottery, shaped into goblets and saucers, sturdy yet delicate. She writes about love and sex, black dresses and red pickup trucks. Like popping SweetTarts in my mouth, her words explode into my own experience. I am awake again. I feel something. I see my own passion and my own courage, the raw experience of my body and the sacred ground of my love held squarely and dangerously in the curve of her fearless expression.
We are all of it, fear and fearlessness. Ease and dis-ease. Clarity and confusion. We discover ourselves through our creative acts, through being in the world. Maybe we feel fear, but we rise to a challenge. Or we live a quiet life of attention and service. Or we make many mistakes and keep on going. The daily meandering forward expresses who we are in the world and the fear is in not knowing how it is going to turn out.
It is important to have community that sees this and reflects this back to us. Otherwise we dwell in the outmoded perception that “I am fearful,” means “I am not whole. I am in need of fixing.” It simply means “I am fearful”, and we go on, designing our lives with threads of beauty, ribbons of love and raw materials we find along the way.
Who are the people in your life that that remind you of who you are and what you are capable of? How can you be kind to yourself today as you meander forward?