My family is particularly poignant about their sentiment that unless I live within driving distance from them I cease to function as "part of the family". This is very puzzling (not to mention hurtful) to me because plenty of families live apart; different towns, states, timezones, countries, hemispheres.
I used to think I could change anything I wanted to - that I had the power and faith to move mountains, save the world. I'm wondering these days if it's more appropriate to pick and choose battles - that I can't in fact change everything, that maybe I shouldn't want to. Living in the woods teaches you - the only thing you can change is yourself- and living in the city supports that. Because really, we all have to be the change we want to see... right?
I don't think life is easy for anyone. We're all faced with choices, some feel open wider about options than others- but when you get down to it - choosing is tough. And this whole process of becoming an independent adult... what to wear, where to work, how to live, whom to love - laden with choices, big and small along the way. I would never claim that I make impeccable choices. My heart falls for hopeless romances, my questing takes me to desolate lonely places, my professional passions barely pay minimum wage, and the belts on my car squeal for at least a minute when I first turn it on. This is who I am. These are parts of myself and my life. I got myself here, and a lot of other people fueled the process. I try to do the best I can with what I'm given - I think we all do - but the thing to understand is that's very relative.
You're doing the best you can with what you're given - or anyways... I hope you are. It's all a question of how you process this, or realization : what are you given? What is the best thing to do with that?
That's the thing about bashing other people's life choices - how do you know if you had what they have to work with you'd be so very different?
How does my family know if they had a heart, head, spirit, and passion that I do that they would stay in the Virginias living impeccably conventional traditional lives?
I have no logical explanation for my journey, all I can offer is that I am sensitive to the movement- and believe in following your heart. Every time Jesus performed a healing miracle he immediately told the healed person to move - to go. I mean if we're LIVING the life God intended we're living in motion. Stability is one thing - stagnancy is another. It is my intention and desire to forbid stagnancy in my life.
In a life of movement, there is constantly a factor of heartache and disappointment from those that love you. But I believe I move when God tells me to; I drop the wedding photography job to work at Alta Mons, I move out of my Grandin Apt to hike the Appalachian Trail, I drive to British Colombia to see fall foliage and rocky mountain majesties, I house my divorced friends' furniture while she splits town to sort through heartache.
My favorite bible verse is John 6:15 "Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself."
I like the idea that even Jesus - the most divine creature to walk this earth withdrew from crowds to solitude on a mountain.
I do not know how long I'll stay in Montana. I do not know when I'll be in the Eastern Time Zone again - but I'm not particularly worried about that. This time in Montana is more clearly shaping into my withdrawal to the mountain myself, alone.
And being alone is lonely. Being alone gets you thinking, processing, figuring. Being on a mountain gives you a different perspective, a removed overlooking perspective.
Jesus doesn't come back to the disciples from his mountaintop withdrawal until they are on a rough sea and he walks across it, asking of their faith.
I wonder how he was recharged from his mountaintop, I wonder what he thought about, I wonder what his perspective was, to return to those he loved in such a bold fierce way?
I have never traveled anywhere that decreases my love for my family and friends. If anything those relationships feel strengthened by the distance, stripped of convenience and polished to reveal the brilliance of genuine compassion and concern.
So- you can see how confusing and hurtful it would be for people to tell me that because I'm not geographically near them I am choosing to not be part of them. And frankly- it's selfish to ask someone not to do the best they can with what they're given; to move, to seek. No one writes our story but ourself- and no one knows what's best for you - better than you- and every day we have to be the change we hope to be and there's nowhere that's more clear than a mountain.
So here I sit, in a financially relationally stripped humble existence, figuring, asking, seeking.
I think the answer will be given. I believe the door will be opened. I think this wait will be worth while.
To my family and friends- you may be on a boat in rough seas when I return- but I will - someday. Be not afraid, have a little faith. Understand I love you endlessly.