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.