I am still learning

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You know something? I heard a lot of silly notions about becoming a grown-up.

Like somewhere along the way I was going to stoop down, pick up a bag of guaranteed answers, open it, and breathe a heavy sigh of relief.

After high school, I would go to a prestigious college and obtain a dazzling degree in four years flat. During that time, I would work some ridiculous jobs, but take solace knowing they were only temporary. Once I had that degree, respectful employment would be mine for the taking.

Once I finished college, I would have a flourishing career, one that would pay off my student loans and offer a lifetime of stability, gratefully insured and saving for mecca…retirement. My job would never feel like work. I would wake up every day, drink my coffee and dress the part, and go to the office, smiling because I was content with just making money.

With all of this money, I would buy an over-sized house and a luxury car, both more than I could afford because they would symbolize success, that I had arrived. Besides, I would need these accessories to match my life’s outfit. Being a good adult means looking like you have your shit together, even when you don’t.

Yeah, things didn’t pan out like that for me.

I had all the grades to go to any college I wanted, but there was a reluctance inside of me. If my rebellious side would have put her big girl pants on, I’m pretty sure I would have passed on the higher education thing altogether. Instead, I got in line and chose a random college, transferred to some others, studied abroad, and six years later I had that sparkling piece of paper.

I held it in my hands, unconvinced by its magical powers. So, I tucked it inside of my dresser drawer, underneath some neatly folded sweaters, and continued working my high-end retail sales job for several more years. I made a ton of money, lived in a loft with a downtown view, and I screwed off.

I delayed the adult.

Then, I moved to a smaller city to become an artist, a dance teacher and a writer. I downsized everything – ditched my car and holed up in a tiny apartment decorated with used furniture – and strangely, I felt much better, like myself. I spent a lot of time working in sweatpants, feeling rewarded, but too poor to keep it up.

Now I have a steady paycheck. I juggle my creative desires on the side.

I have insurance, but no cushy retirement fund to be excited about. Because I don’t want retirement to be it – my one dream. I want to live now, experience everything I can, savor the journey because that is truly the dream.

Isn’t destination just a fancier word for the end?

At my Yoga teacher graduation last June, I didn’t hear promises of grandeur. Instead of wearing my honors sash, cap, and gown, I was barefoot with prayer beads hanging around my neck. Instead of a shiny piece of paper, I held a certificate filled with seeds for planting new growth and a slender box of incense for reflection.

There is only one answer I have found in this past year, on the very last page of  “Light on Life” by Iyengar, written exquisitely by one of the world’s masters of Yoga, who still practices three hours each day at the age of 90.

This man of infinite wisdom nearing the end of his life honors a gentle humility by quoting Spanish artist Goya. At 78 years old, deaf and debilitated, Goya said “Aún aprendo”.

I am still learning.

38 thoughts on “I am still learning

  1. Pamela says:

    Thank you my dear! I had the same illusions of being a grown up. I thought I would have a lot of money, a gleaming kitchen, and live in a cozy stone house and never worry again. Can’t wait to read your book!!! xoxo

  2. Andrea Stephenson says:

    This is such an inspiring post – I find as I get older the career I’ve built is the thing of least importance in my life, I would rather be creating and enjoying the simple things – I love that comment ‘isn’t destination just a fancier word for the end’. PS Just started reading Beneath the Satin Gloves and I’m hooked!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Hey, Andrea. Thank you and yes, as we get older, it is so important to truly see what is meaningful. How awesome for you to know the beauty of the simple things.

      So happy you’re hooked with Satin Gloves. Yay!

  3. Letizia says:

    In fact when you ‘delayed being an adult’ – that’s the moment you became an adult, right? When we figure out that we have to take our own path (whatever crazy non-sensical unpredictable direction that may be!) seems to be the moment when we accept who we are and start to feel real compassion towards others.

    What a beautiful piece, Britt.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Absolutely. Those “adult delay” years were part of the great transition. Yes, it seems the stranger the path, the more we learn who we are…a bit like survival for the soul.

      Thank you, sweet love. Your words are always beautifully profound.

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    Nice post Britt and Letizia sums it up beautifully. Certainly I think you only find happiness and inner peace once you stop striving for it, the moment you look around and are content with what you have, which may be very little. We’re here for a click of the fingers, right? You’re right, the destination is the end – and five minutes later we’ll be forgotten. (I will anyway, you may not 🙂 )

  5. Stan R. Mitchell says:

    What a beautiful post, Britt! And you’re not alone. Our journeys and questions are remarkably similar!

    When I started my company, I was so ambitious and dressed nice and dreamed of big bucks. : ) After some pretty major life setbacks, it finally occurred to me how absurd my thoughts had been.

    Now, I dream of less and less, of fewer hassles and fears each night, and a life that moves much slower. I’m slowly but surely making that happen and I’m so happy you’re clearly doing the same.

    I’m just super happy for you, and super happy — selfishly speaking — that I came across you on the internet!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Dreams are awesome to have, but I’m learning that they aren’t the answer. Appreciating the now is where it’s at.

      Glad that we have connected in the ole blog universe, Stan. Here I was with those glorious author ambitions when I first started this blog. Turns out the thing I love most are the incredible connections I’ve made with good peeps like yourself.

  6. 4amWriter says:

    One of the reasons writing is such a big venture for me is because I know I will always do it. Even if it is just for myself, it brings me that much joy. Going along with that is the fact writers can continually learn and grow, even after they have written skeighty-eight books. I would be miserable if I had nothing left to learn.

    Being a mom is another part of my life where I receive daily lessons. I think learning keeps us young at heart, anyway.

    Great, inspirational post, Britt!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I life without learning would be pretty dull, wouldn’t it? And yes, the mind that continues to grow and learn will forever be a child with an eager heart.

      All beautifully said. Thank you, Kate!

  7. Sheila says:

    Very true. We should always make sure to keep trying new things and keep learning. I also thought someday I’d figure everything out. Now I’m sure that will never happen. But it’s still fun to try to figure some things out along the way. Like Thoreau knew all those years ago, the simpler life is the better one.

  8. Browsing the Atlas says:

    I think we’re kindred spirits, Britt. Though you graduated from college much quicker than I did. It took me four schools and 10 years. 😉 And after I got my degree, my life didn’t change one little iota. Which was fine by me.

    But you know why I think we take these unconventional, circuitous routes? Because we’re writers. Because we’re constantly exploring and living and gathering perspective and insights and learnings to share on the page. It’s what makes us so darn special!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I believe we are kindred spirits, my dear. The only reason it didn’t take me 10 years is because I got an itch to get it done after studying abroad, so I went extra full time. Seeing another part of the world made me realize I needed more time to see what was out there, outside of the classroom.

      I agree with you about the writer thing and I love everything you said.

      I didn’t realize I was a writer until a year or so ago, and I still have trouble calling myself that. However, connecting with this writing side has taught me a lot about myself and why I’m so darn crazy/special. : )

  9. Red Chuck Productions says:

    Great post. I occasionally compare my current “position” in life to a very similar template as the one you describe above and find where I am lacking. I’m behind. I’m immature. I’m not prepared. But I try to keep in mind my travels and adventures, my creativity and my friends. Sure, I may not have a cushy retirement, but I’ve lived some great stories. And continue to do so.

  10. Inion N. Mathair says:

    Hi Britt, we are new to your blog by way of mutual blogging friend, Carrie Rubin. Fantastic post that’s very insightful for one so young. Balance & Acceptance is a hard thing to get hold of. But you sound as though you are centered perfectly. We look forward to stopping by & reading more of your posts & the shadow. 🙂

  11. Lindsey (Currie) Dubois says:

    I don’t want retirement to be my only goal either….. I get it. I’ve chosen homelessness as my way of being as I perished my writing dreams….. Now I have a job and often find my inner people pleaser paying lip service to those who tell me to peruse “real” life…. And now I find myself living in a reality that isn’t mine…. Glad to be waking up to the fact, though… As now I’m respecting myself enough to believe in my dreams again and take action on them again…. After all, they are not merely dreams, they are inevitable…. They are my destiny.

    Love this post. It’s so real, do raw, so clear…. And I’m so grateful for it.
    Thank you!
    Lindsey

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Awesome to be in good company in the bloggerhood. Having a job definitely takes bills, hunger, etc. off the table so we can have a clear, creative mind. The year I spent struggling while pursuing writing full time was tough. I now know that it takes time and patience, something I work on every day. The writing’s the easy part. : )

      Thanks for stopping by, Lindsey!

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