There's an eerie feeling that crept up on me yesterday when I looked at my watch and saw the date: 4/16/2017. Is it Mid-April already? I freaked out. Every year seems to come sooner than the previous one. Before 2017 came, I wrote down a list of things I wanted to accomplish this year. I desperately wanted to see them come true, so as I routinely do every year on the last day of the year, I wrote them down, prayed over them, and made plans to see them fulfilled. I promised myself that I would no longer put things on hold, because I felt that if I lost my sense of urgency, I would begin to settle into accepting that my dreams didn't have to come true. Time flies, and so do fading dreams.
A couple months ago, I read this book called "The Alchemist" by Paul Coelho. I could NOT get myself to put this book down. It spoke to me and convicted me. It also saddened me as I began to see that as in this book, many people end up giving up on their dreams. It made me sad to think about, but it also inspired me. It helped me realize that we can so easily forget our own "Personal Legends," even as we journey towards it.
"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." (Coelho)
Although I love calling Los Angeles "home" and am so grateful to have grown up in a place that embraces diversity and shares a mixing pot of culture, at the same time, I am not satisfied. Like the shepherd boy who pursues his longing explains when he is encouraged to be satisfied where he is as a shepherd boy, says "but I want to be where they are," I often times feel the same. When he chose to pursue his legend, he realizes it was never about the outcome or obtaining a physical thing, but the gift of life and destiny had offered him as he trusted it. I want to be satisfied with the life now and where I am now, because it's good, but I'm always wondering if there's more, believing there is. This is why Coelho's message really resonates with me.
I don't know how many reminders I need and may continue to need, but I need them and so do those around me - of their purpose, of their calling, of their destiny. I need these reminders daily, especially when things become routine and easily, I can find myself contemplating if I should stay - or if I should even go at all? Go, as in take the courageous steps towards becoming what I fully don't know yet, but be willing to take the risks to constantly discover more within myself, the world, and God's plan and purpose to use my life.
How can I let that reminder provoke not just a reaction, but an active response that takes me there - towards destiny? There is a constant tension in my spirit that yearns for something more. Although I'm happy and at peace with life now, there is a constant unsatisfaction with accepting that this could be it - a daily job that I like and enjoy for the most part but not am sincerely and whole-heartedly passionate about, a nice income, a nice man to marry one day, a nice routine life, safe and predictable - versus something completely different, radical, and extraordinary in it's own way. Please, take me there.
Purpose. I've known, when I felt it most. It always required more from me, but it's return was unmatchably priceless and incomparable to the joy and fulfillment I received in exchange for the courage it required of me. It rarely felt comfortable, but I was greatly comforted by knowing I was walking in my "Personal Legend."
This morning, I decided to visit my own blog and look through the albums I shared. I began to read the stories I wrote and remember many more stories, people, places. Flashbacks - they came to life in my head for a brief moment. It did something to my heart. I felt as if I was there in my spirit again, full and alive. It sparked a desire again for me to go again, not just to a far away place or another country - but to a place of beauty and desire and wonder. Of hardship, sincerity, compassion, community, and where love and miracles thrive even in the poorest and most broken places. As I scrolled through the Africa album, I caught myself stuck starting at a photo with me smiling with kids surrounding me and felt emotional. I missed them. I wondered if they thought of me too. I remember the gorgeous and ginormous African sunset that never stopped amazing me, night after night.
I love to travel, but it's not just the idea of going somewhere, doing fun things, or going on vacation. It's adventure, learning, growing, being humbled constantly as you receive something that cannot be bought or taken. There's always a gift that travelling gives that is priceless. There's something deep and rich about it. I never come back the same person. Even if it's the same places I've visited, each new experience never ceases to offer something different.
I think I love to be immersed in something other than comfort, other than me - because I realize how settling for a life of familiarity and fear of failing or falling has damaged my spirit. It has dampened my passion and weakened my curiosity, shrunk my appetite and ambition for greater things, wounded my capacity for wonder and faith and beauty; it has reduced my dream to just an idea that could maybe be or not be.
Sometimes I close my eyes and dream of holding babies again in different countries, especially in poor villages -knowing the local language(s) of many different places to have conversations with people with cultures and lifestyles so different than my own. I think this is why I loved being a missionary. I don't know how to share the gospel with my words, but I love spending time with people and sharing love which comforts and covers us over everything.
The price we pay for embracing fear is greater than the loss that may come with the risk of pursuing our destiny to it's fullest. When life is too safe, we have no need of hope and we lose the spark of possibility, and wonder, and edginess. It's a tragedy when we settle for less than the most we can get.
I want to see the world. I want to meet real people, and have a dialogue with love across cultures and continents, and make relationships with people really different than myself. It scares me. A lot of possibilities scare me, but they excite me more. I want them. I don't know exactly what this looks like for me yet, but I think as I continue to hold on to this undying desire in my heart and this hope for something beautiful and extroardinarily beyond myself- I hope opportunity(s) come where I can be all that I'm made to be, where I'm meant to be, continue to see the world, meet people, and be used by the creator to serve a greater purpose than a life kept to myself.