This I Believe

Robin - Havertown, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 24, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that the fastest, most efficient (and most joyful) way to get from Here to There is to turn off the headlights, throw the map out the window and race straight into the dark. Personally, I’ve always been a very stubborn driver, navigating the road at top speed and whizzing past road signs and possible short-cuts because I didn’t realize how easy it was to be blinded by the intense light of my own way of doing things or worse, by “the way things should be.”

Several months ago, I moved back to the U.S. after the break-up of a relationship. Galloping across the border on my high horse, I was confident. I could fix this. I wanted to be independent, the mistress of my own destiny. I crashed with friends on the East Coast and began to check out the opportunities in various major cities. Like a good cowgirl, I pulled up my bootstraps, tied down my heart and kept moving.

But no matter how fast I went, I couldn’t outrun the things I was starting to feel. Horrible things. I looked into the future and saw nothing but a blank screen. Nothing felt good or right. A voice began to speak to me–that still, small voice that everyone keeps talking about. Soft and relentless, it sounded like this: I don’t know…I don’t know…I don’t know.

A death in the family brought me suddenly to California and there, surrounded by family in a Mexican restaurant, I finally lost it over a plate of cheese quesadillas. I couldn’t deny it any longer—I was in the dark.

I realized that for the past month I had been doing nothing more than laying new wood on an old frame. Real change was never going to happen unless I was willing to break apart everything I had used to make sense in the world: this type of job, that house, this relationship, that belief.

So I decided to stop making sense for a while and see if I could learn to navigate in a new way. Right now, I’m sitting in a sunny California coffee shop writing away on a laptop (borrowed) and living for the moment in a gorgeous house with a gorgeous view (not mine).

Living in the dark is teaching me that I don’t really own anything—death, job loss, natural disasters can wipe anyone’s slate clean in a moment. I realized how often I discounted the gifts that I had been given because they were “only” borrowed. The dark has also taught me that, in reality, I’ve never actually done anything on my own—whether it’s encouragement from a friend or a so-called lucky break, I’ve never been independent from others.

I don’t know where I’ll end up or what my next career move should be. But I do that the dark is not empty. The voice waiting for me inside of it got me here. And I trust it will get me there.