They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same, which can be reassuring but more often than not is just depressing as hell.
I’ve been going through about 60 pounds of cards and letters that I wrote to my mother and dad during my tenure at college and subsequent post-grad years in San Francisco (the latter of which I tossed, en masse, into the garbage since they were rife with certain memories of Certain People and Events that certain others of us would rather pretend Never Really Happened). Reading through my collegiate musings reminded me of some interesting things from my past that I’d forgotten, like the fact that I sure did have a lot of boyfriends, and I sure was into Jesus, and I sure was a damned good daughter for writing all these newsy letters. But the big OMG moment was seeing how really very little has changed: how I am still just as clueless about the purpose of my life as I was at 20. This fascinating and hugely disconcerting awareness arose as I sat on the floor of my office in my pjs at 11 a.m. opening letters that I penned (in lovely cursive) 30 years ago. That’s right. 30.
Now, wondering about one’s purpose and direction in life in one’s senior year in college is one thing. It’s another thing entirely to be asking the same questions at 50. Or maybe not, I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t like it, and I never have. I’ve always wanted to know What I Am Supposed To Do and I still don’t. I say this despite having a masters in counseling psychology and being an author, a columnist, a soul coach and a mother of two. I post profound things on Facebook like, “Your purpose is to love others and love the Earth,” which I believe is true and I try to fulfill that particular purpose, but somehow it just doesn’t quite satisfy. There’s more, and I know it, and it drives me nuts.
Just after graduation I had my first astrology reading in which I was informed that career would be elusive and that I would have many interesting but unrelated jobs, and that is precisely what happened. A few years later I saw a career counselor who informed me that I was “raised to be retired.” She said this like it was a bad thing; I thought it sounded rather pleasant and Downton Abbey-like. (Oddly enough, it’s kind of what happened.) When I was 35 I saw a witch—really, she was—who told me in no uncertain terms that I was a healer, but that I didn’t know it, and I wouldn’t know it until I was 50. At the time I thought, Oh, Jesus, 50?? You’ve GOT to be kidding me.
She wasn’t kidding. In two months I will turn 50 and I confess, somewhat sheepishly, that I am fervently praying that Witchy Poo was right, and that Something Big is about happen. Good things come to those who wait. This is what I am telling myself. Besides, the venerable Molly Means, my local psychic-du-jour, confirmed that “It” is coming, and “It” won’t come one minute too early or too late, and there’s nothing I can do to hasten or halt “It.” I just have to remain open. So there you are.
But what sort of coincidence is it, I muse to myself, that the trajectory of my life has silently and persistently angled toward one of self-inquiry, divination, and a quest for The Meaning of Life explored through graduate school, two decades of therapy and analysis, copious reading, psychic readings, multiple journals and a published book? Not. Not a coincidence. There are no coincidences, just slow, neurotic people who refuse to accept what’s right in front of them and waste a lot of precious time imagining that they are doing something wrong, or not doing enough. Sad, really.
I’ve decided, after this trip back through “The City that God Forgot” (as I refered to Chicago in my letters), that I’m going to stop saying, “I don’t know.” I’m going to switch-up my M.O. and say, “I do know. I know who I am (at least in this moment), and I know where I’m going (at least today) and it’s all awesome,” because it is.
There are lots of purposes, for all of us, many stars in each of our heavens. It’s a shame not to enjoy them all, reaching for just one distant and perhaps poorly-imagined one.
I think I’ll write a letter back to Past Kate and say, “Stop trying so hard. It’s ALL good. Enjoy the journey.”