Six days, 9 states, innumerable Podcasts (ohmygoodness have you heard Serial?), 2,9456 miles (and five solid pounds) later and I am officially a Left Coaster.
I lived here (in this exact city) over a decade ago and nothing is remotely familiar except the consistently cold weather (64 degrees in June).
There are, of course, the normal things that one must find in a new city: a place to live, a church home, somewhere to dance salsa, several cool coffee shops, a new library card, the nearest Target, someone to date. You know,The Basics. I’m working on all of those things, but unlike almost every single one of my previous moves, there’s no rush.
Everything is moving at the speed of Goldilocks: not too fast, not too slow; just right. There’s no harried franticness about this move, no wild anticipation of the unexpected shoe that drops like an anvil to destroy my life in progress. I feel…well, I don’t know what the word is to describe this stasis that I feel.
Maybe it’s peace? or equilibrium? or the very unwriterly description that keeps popping into my head: I feel like a normal person. I feel like the ground finally stopped shifting under my feet and the boat finally righted itself. I finally got off of whatever crazy Tilt-A-Whirl amusement park ride that I was on with no nausea or dizziness.
My friend the Hustler drove with me across country. We had a great time and amazing conversation (when we weren’t listening to Serial). Somewhere around Arizona, she asked me what I would do if I won the lottery. I didn’t even think about if for very long.
I would make sure my parents and siblings are good, I said. But, I wouldn’t change anything else.
Bullseye. That’s the word that describes this feeling that I have. Bullseye. I am at the very center of my targeted goal. Bullseye. I am on track to do the thing that I was meant to do. I am on the path to my purpose.
Bullseye. I am exactly where I am meant to be.
It’s an amazing (and indescribable) feeling.
You see, I’d been searching for my purpose and had been restless for quite some time. When I was 28 and living in Germany, I came across this poem by Mary Oliver:
The last two lines haunted me for a very long time:
Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I could not escape this question. I wrote it down in my noteboooks and journals, I would scribble it absentmindedly during working hours at my desk, I put it on the wall of my bedroom. I even asked other people to see if they could answer it.
It was this poem that shook me awake. I had been carelessly drifting – coasting even — through life. Except it wasn’t happy coasting like inner tubing down a lazy river. It was more like wild water rafting tossed to and froness with no sense of direction. Until this warning sign showed up mid-rapid.
Your life is wild and precious, it said. And you only get ONE life. So figure it out.
The rapids (and life) didn’t stop as I figured out what I was supposed to do. In fact, the ante was upped. I hit a category 5 river with no helmet, no life preserver, and no safety gear. And then I fell out of the raft. It was not pretty and I almost died.
But, it was the best thing to ever happened to me.
I don’t know if you’re coasting on a lazy river right now or, submerged so far under water that you are swallowing more water than breathing, or just flat out shipwrecked, but there is something, some thing, maybe things, that you are meant to do with your wild and precious life. I promise. Your life has value and meaning and purpose always. Even right now when you don’t know what that meaning is or you feel directionless.
There is no age limit for figuring out your purpose. As we get older and are still coasting along, we think that we must have missed it somehow and that this place where we are is as good as it gets. Not true. I didn’t figure out my purpose until I was 34 and that’s most likely because I wasn’t ready for it. The rapids were the ultimate preparation ground that taught me humility, grit, courage, and dependence upon God. Things that I will need for the rest of my journey. I imagine that whatever your challenge or difficulty is, it’s preparing you for your destiny as well and it might take a while.
As I was wrapping up my time in the roughest of the rapids, one of the girls that I mentored gave me a going away bag of goodies. In the bag was a journal. Do you know what the quote on the journal was? Yep, it was my original warning sign (she had no idea about the significance of that quote):