Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obstacles

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." -Fr. Alfred D'Souza

I LOVE this quote.  When I read it, I thought that this guy was reading my mind.  While I do not, by any means, believe that my life has just been a series of obstacles, I spent years waiting to find the chance to take the time to figure out what, exactly, it was that I was supposed to be doing with my life.  Only recently have I been able to see that the obstacles, the unfinished business, all the ‘stuff’ are things that contribute to the whole picture that is me.  There is a purpose that I could not possibly completely carry out, if all of the pieces that make up ‘me’ were not there.  While there are things in my history that I would love to be able to go back in time and change, they are there, period.  I can choose to hold on to those things as an excuse for not moving forward, or I can take the pieces of me that those experiences have created and stick them in the holes of my life’s crazy puzzle and go forward, knowing that those things are what make me uniquely me.  Because of those ‘pieces’, I can’t attempt to wear anyone else’s “shoes” (see first blog entry if you are wondering why in the world I am talking about shoes…), but I must take my feet with the arthritic toes and calluses and bunion-y things, and stop sitting around staring at them, wishing they were soft and pampered, and put on the shoes that fit me and go forward.

It has been so exciting over the past couple of months to finally see how the pieces of my life are finally fitting together to make a picture form as part of my puzzle.  Have you ever tried to work a puzzle without ever having seen the picture it is supposed to be in the end?  A relative of mine used to make puzzles.  He would glue pictures he got from calendars onto some thin wood and then cut out the pieces using a jigsaw.  The puzzles were given to people in coffee cans covered with floral contact paper.  No picture of the final product was ever on the outside of the can, since there was usually only one copy of the picture, and that was the one that had been cut up to make the puzzle.  Even though these puzzles were sometimes the hardest to put together (all you could do was match one piece to another), they were always interesting to work because every now and then, this guy would have a puzzle piece in the shape of a little man, or a boot, or the shape of a state, or something else familiar.  Those shapes would sometimes pop up just when things were getting boring, or just when you thought you might give up out of sheer frustration, and then you would go on, curious about what the next few pieces might bring.

That is where I have been.  I have had this collection of random experiences tossed together in this pretty floral coffee can of my life, but couldn’t quite see what the whole picture was going to end up looking like.  My pieces run the gamut of shapes.  As a kid: living on college campuses, then with an Air Force colonel, and even briefly in a commune.  My younger childhood is shaped by some ‘flower-child’ experiences while some of my adulthood might look, to some, like a reincarnation of June Cleaver.   Over the years I have developed various skills and interests, and numerous quirks, but had never seen that they could possibly be connectable or related.

My epiphany about this stuff, these ‘obstacles’ BEING my life, dawned on me a few months ago, and I was filled with such HUGE relief that I really was headed in a direction; not just randomly skating around.  When I realized that, I felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted – the weight of ‘WHAT AM I DOING WITH THE REST OF MY LIFE????????” 

I am not sure what the picture will look like, once all of the pieces are out of the can and finally interlocked together, but just like working those puzzles:  I am starting to see the meadow here, the sky and clouds over there, and some trees over here, and I know that they all will fit together to form something really neat and the outcome excites me.

Where are you headed?  What are your dreams?  Have you given up and put everything back into that coffee can, or are you sorting and fitting and experimenting and trying things out?

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