By: Gabriela Yareliz
Erwin McManus wrote recently that we pick certain studies and professions because something deep inside of us sort of seeks something in that. He gives the example of his wife, a woman who was orphaned at 8 years old, who then went on to be a teacher for eight-year-old kids. While she was abandoned at that age, she was determined to make the lives of other children special and to nurture them. It’s a touching (and slightly cliche thought), this thought of seeking to fill our holes. And it rings true. We see if fulfilled in many lives, including his wife’s life. A remarkable life, indeed. What do these little lines on a map say about us? In some cases, they take us down into a valley, in others, they take us up the mountain.
There is also another fact, and it’s that we can often end up where we don’t expect to. We didn’t initially position ourselves for it, but– bam– we end up there. Or perhaps, we positioned ourselves for it without an agenda, unknowingly. The past had less recipes for life. These days, if you want to become a designer, you go to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). And yet– none of the old greats really graduated from there with the exception of Calvin Klein. In the old guard, you just sort of fell into things. Sort of how Johnny Depp became an actor by accident. That caught my attention when he told the story on the stand. The Studio 54 crowd didn’t get there because they marched in a straight line– there was a strange little jagged path that took them there. The artists who influenced a generation did it because they dared.
But let’s say there is something in the subconscious that takes us in the direction we need to go or the hand of providence gives us the nudge we need, and we do end up filling those holes… what does that look like– what does it really look like? And what should it mean? We can establish that we desire or have a need for something, but then what does it mean to actually pursue it? What should we be getting out of it, and what should we leave behind to it?
And what makes certain choices different from another? I mean, to start off, I studied journalism. So, you could argue I like the truth, finding it, questioning it, and sharing it. What made me different from another major? Does one sit back in the stacks or in a lab and question and does the other question the masses? I hate a liar, but do I give myself up for truth as Socrates did? Does it mean I have enough humility to know that one person cannot know it all? Or am I skeptical? Does it mean I am not embarrassed to bluntly state I don’t understand and let the expert do the talking? An attorney seeks justice. Does this mean I suffered deep injustice that bothered me to no end? Do I have some unsatiable need to fix things for others and ensure they are treated with dignity and leave with something in hand? Did I lose so hard I now need to win? Do any of these questions matter?
What do our tiny choices mean? What do they reveal about us? When do the tiny choices become the big ones? Why do humans forget they have a right to live life, and instead settle for crumbs and beg for permission until it’s over?
I truly think that we have become the ones who go to that one school for that one thing because we can’t deal with life. With really living it. We want safety. We want surety. We want the straight line that goes nowhere. A map to a destination is not one filled with straight lines.
Maybe, the sooner we realize that life is all the little jagged lines, we will accept the assignment. We will go on the adventure. We will take the risk and fill our lungs up with the cool damp air that screams to us that we must live, live, LIVE!