It’s always sunny above the clouds. That’s my first thought when taking off through the fog and gray, at the moment when blinding light bursts through the haze into the infinitely blue sky above. I love that it works both literally and figuratively, and it sets my travel mood to introspection.
Perspective is a wonderful and tricky thing. On the one hand, I find it immensely useful whenever clear juxtapositions arise. Usually those take the form of gratitude: feeling lucky I have enough to eat, good health, people who love me, and a healthy, happy son. I find that kind of perspective easiest to come by. All I have to do is turn on the news to find countless examples of how lucky I am.
But let’s face it—I’m a bit selfish. Sometimes gratitude isn’t enough to assuage the frustrations I feel in my day-to-day life. Sometimes I need more to gain perspective. Flying 35,000 feet above the planet is a good way to get it.
In my life I’ve often felt disoriented. Not significantly. Not always noticeably. But it’s like I’ve been on a constant search for external cues to help me navigate toward the life I’m meant to lead. Am I on the right track? Are you who I think you are? What do you want from me? What do I want from you? Sometimes understanding myself within the limited knowledge stored in my mind and body feels woefully untenable.
When I was younger no one expected anything from me. “Of course you don’t have IT figured out,” they’d say. “You’re just a kid!” I exhaled a relieved sigh and bumbled along a little further, learning tidbits about myself and the world around me, not discovering any specific purpose. And then suddenly this invisible barrier went up and as we all crossed through, it was no longer acceptable to simply bumble. It was now time to at least pretend that we knew what we were doing.
I find other people infinitely more convincing at this than I myself have been. Because of this I’ve developed a habit of believing them. I’ve met a number of people who genuinely seem to know where they’re going and why. Some have known the where but not the why. And others have known the why, but not how. I thought all of them had IT more figured out than me.
I’m beginning to realize that’s not true. Firstly, by engaging in lots of conversations about this sort of thing I’ve learned that a lot of people are just good actors. I can’t compete with that and I don’t care to. But realizing that they were acting—that it wasn’t true—completely shifted my perspective. It relieved a lot of that self-inflicted pressure.
That perspective shift permitted me not to make it up. I didn’t want to pretend, I needed to KNOW. Many years later, after trying on a lot of things that didn’t fit, I finally figured out what I’m doing and why. Yay!
I’m a writer, working to empower women through fiction. In the stories I write my heroines save themselves. This does not preclude them from enjoying romantic happiness, but that’s not their purpose in life and they’re not sitting around waiting for some guy to swoop in and save them. It’s important to me to add to a more constructive social narrative.
I’m also a photographer. I enjoy telling visual stories and capturing candid moments in people’s lives. People are beautiful and I love when I get to show them a facet of themselves they’d never noticed before.
Now that I’ve stopped pretending, I love that I don’t have to choose between the two professions I’m most passionate about. Doing both provides a good balance and keeps my creative well full. I also need to spend time with people I care about. Sometimes that’s my priority. One of my favorite things in the world is someone popping up out of the blue saying, “Let’s hang out!” Many of the best memories have been made by saying yes to that. I’m still working out how I can be most effective at balancing my life and work passions and I’m okay with being a work in progress.
No one has it figured out. We are all tiny specks on a dustball floating through space. Of course we’re disoriented. Infinite space has that effect. We would be delusional not to be. But in embracing the disparate vignettes that comprise our lives we can also see how perfectly, uniquely exquisite we are.
I’m tired of trying to figure IT out. None of us is a fixed entity. We are all (hopefully) growing and changing and so is the world we live in. To pretend otherwise is to engage in a losing battle. I tried that and got my ass kicked. I can admit defeat and move on.
So instead of figuring IT out, I am instead trusting that no matter what my dilemma, confusion or frustration is, it’s always sunny above the clouds.