Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#12 - Read a book

I'm back to my list. Well sort of.

I finally read and finished my first book in months. I've began reading several but completing them seems to be the challenge for me. I seem to get half way through and lose interest. Leaving me with several books scattered through out our apartment with book marks in them (ok so I never seem to use book marks, usually just receipts or subscription cards from magazines).

The last book I read was just after Christmas. I mentioned it on here and totally loved it. So much so that I felt as though I could've written it.

This was the first time I've ever experienced this feeling. I remember getting to the end and feeling so sad to say good bye to my book. It seemed a part of me. It seemed to be actually connected to me, and I didn't want to lose that connection.

I didn't think it was really possible for that to happen again. It's kind of like a kindred spirit. You can't plan on someone being that to you, and you can't really look for it, it just happens.

Well, I've been fortunate enough to find yet another kindred book spirit in my recent read from my retreat 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

I just finished it on the weekend and I had the exact feelings of sadness when I was finished. Not really about the story but about the fact that there were no more pages to read.

As I said, this is a new experience for me to have. I've never been so tied to a book, or in this case books. Note these were both memoir type books not fiction - fiction is a different ballgame altogether. I don't find it difficult at all to become addicted to the story in a fiction novel. I mean everything seems to run together and flow so well. All the characters are perfectly placed with drama popping up at the perfect times. There's usually sacrifice, heartbreak, recovery and at some point love - romantic or otherwise.

Memoirs however don't generally seem all that alluring. I mean you already know the ending to a degree. If the author is writing they obviously lived through whatever happened. You even get to skip ahead to the end where they have a blurb about them and update where they are now, who they are living with and how many cats are prowling around their newly acquired abode due to the success of the book that is in your hands.

These two books though took me somewhere real. They took me on a journey with, in one case a man, and the other a woman, who were searching for meaning in their lives.

Both made huge sacrifices in order to find what they were looking for. Both realized the spiritual aspects of living a life of meaning, yet also knew the humanity behind it too.

Though the Donald Miller book was a while back and I can't remember every detail I know that he along with Elizabeth Gilbert opened themselves up to learning. They opened themselves up to being wrong, but taking the time to figure out how to do things better. Maybe not perfectly but better.

Certainly this is what drew me to both books and resonated with me. I love adventure. I love risk. I love a good story. Yet, like anyone else I want all of these things to happen while I'm in the comfort of my own home.

Can't I have a good story and still have a regular job? Sure. Can't I create a telling tale from my 7 story apartment? Why not. Can't I experience excitement in life while doing the same thing I always have done? That's (in my opinion) a no. Sorry.

I think it's funny that we all (or at least most or many of us) want a fantastic life story. We all want to be proud of what our lives look like. This may look completely different to each person but that's a good thing. However I don't think many of us want the key ingredient: sacrifice.

We want to hang on for dear life to the things that we know: where we live, with whom we live, our friends, our jobs, our hobbies even. I'm guessing this is just our overall human response, because it is natural for all of us to do this. I know that for both writers giving things up and changing their lives wasn't easy at all.

Why do it at all then? Why not just live happily ever after in the same spot for the rest of our lives? Tell me: how would you feel if your life stayed exactly the same for the next however many years you have left?

I think as much as it is natural for us to keep comfortable, there is just as much of a desire to grow and experience life. I'm by no means saying we all need to sell our homes and travel around the world for a year to 'find ourselves' because to be honest if I did that I'd likely end up losing my mind, my luggage and most of my hair.

I guess these reads reminded me, as I am at a point when I am expected to 'settle' into a 'normal' life, that I'm never going to be done. I'm never going to be finished searching, or learning or experiencing.

I have a 75 year old grandmother that is a testament to 'it's never too late to ...', as she got her ears pierced at the age of 72, got her first boy friend in 60 years and still wants to someday ride a motorcycle.

Though it's not always easy to step out and shock people (because to be honest I think it's other people's opinions that trap us into monotony more than anything else), but sometimes it necessary.

Speaking from the point of view of someone who, if she didn't have an anchor of a husband, probably would be a floating willy nilly crazy person hopping here and there and everywhere yet not ever getting grounded in the lessons available. It isn't just the act of moving about that gives you experience, it's the act of thoughtfully living out what you are called to do and be.

I often wonder if my challenge in life is learning how to grow in a stationary position, where many people's challenge would be to grow by being stretched to move. We need to constantly be aware of what we ourselves are being asked to do and stepping out and doing it.

I think I've written about this before, I clearly need reminding.

I feel like I'm rambling.

I read a book. Front to back. I feel like I made another friend and learned another lesson.

Now ... to write my own.

Sleepless dreams ...

Once again I find myself over exhausted yet awake and up in the middle of the night.

I have an array of thoughts swirling about in my mind.

A long upcoming shift with Lady who, so far, I've had good times with but as of late has been having meltdown after meltdown with different staff (no fault of her own in my opinion, nor am I blaming her staff, just a lot of change). Putting me in a nervous position for our upcoming time together, as I have only actually worked one on one with her once.

I also continue to think about a few of the accusations thrown my way as of late regarding my blog and myself. They bother me but not for reasons some may assume. Which brings me to my sleepless dreams ...

I had a discussion yesterday with someone whom I am closely tied but I don't often chat deeply with. When I do it's generally very beneficial, for both of us. But when I don't our relationship seems to hang in the balance. Doubts about me seem to arise and assumptions seem to be made. I suppose a logical thing to happen when communication breaks down.

As I chatted with this person yesterday there were several concerns that were brought up regarding Wally and I's new life. By new life I mean post school, no large financial responsibilities and general freedom as we do not have any children to care for either.

This person had expressed their thoughts on the fact that we seemed to be having no problem enjoying our new financial abundance (I have to insert that everything is relative - we don't make all that much more than we did before we went to school really but we also don't have a house to look after and we are fortunate to love our jobs which definitely all adds to our abundance). They had no problem with that really but they were a bit worried that we were forgetting what it was like to be 'poor' (I guess).

People have seen us enjoy the benefits of a trainer, something I have talked about a lot here and how it was a big deal for us to go ahead with one as we weren't raised to spend our money on such things and to be honest even now we don't have an excess of cash that makes having a trainer 'no big deal'.

We have bought a new (yet used) car. We did need a second vehicle and have always been the type of people that realized our limited abilities with cars and fixing them ourselves so have always purchased ones with little need for major repairs (at least in the first few years until they are paid for). To us this is just a protective measure.

I have spoken openly to people about the fact that, after 9 years of marriage it is nice, for probably a short period of time, to enjoy the freedom to do a little of what we want. By doing so for the first time ever we have not worried about saving up for a house (which of course is delaying things on that front quite a bit), paying a mortgage or renovating a house. All things we've spent most of our marriage doing up until this point, leaving us with no availability to do anything else with our lives previously.

I try not to speak about these things with an 'I'm better than you because I can do blah, blah, blah' pride but I could definitely see how some may feel that way. To be honest I feel as though the years of unemployment, self employment and doing seemingly menial and not always loved jobs has earned us the right to have some fun. That is, as long as we share. Which we have been doing.

The one thing I was called out on though I was not expecting. I heard the words: 'Eva, when you got married to Wally you said you'd be happy in a mud hut in Mexico doing missionary work. What happened to that dream?'

I literally laughed out loud and replied 'I married Wally!' Meaning: 'That was/is my dream, not his!' It struck me a little funny that it was me that was the concern but I had to let that go and it wasn't all that hard as ironically during my time at the gym with my new friend that very morning was spent talking about the fact that if I were a single woman who had never gotten married I would be living in a mud hut somewhere else in this world caring for orphaned children - there's no doubt in my mind.

This absolutely shocked my questioner, which kind of shocked me but I had to laugh it off as clearly we were reading two different books.

I'm not sure what happens when you are young and in love as Wally and I would both claim not to have really experienced this feeling. I was anything but a welcomed item initially in his life but as I've mentioned before over time that changed (for the most part). We were so blissfully poor when we got married I can't imagine why we ever thought it was a good idea. But I am so glad now that we did.

Our apartment was full of rag tag hand me down furniture, and to be honest much of it is now, we've just gotten so much of it through the years we've been able to match it up a bit. It's funny, I used to tease that whenever someone who knew us was getting rid of a couch they'd just call us because we'd take anything. At one point we had 6 couches in our possession, because you know, we needed six couches.

I don't exactly know why I allowed myself to compromise my hopes of going abroad and running an orphanage for the idea of marriage. Probably because at the time it seemed as though having my own family with the expected man of my dreams was much more anticipated (by everyone including myself) than running off to no man's land.

With that said I'm not so sure I did even compromise my dreams but rather, at the time, traded them in for ones that matched my mate a bit better. If you know Wally you would be aware that he's not exactly the type to get excited about sleeping on a dirt floor just to get to hold a little brown baby. And why should he, he has other dreams and good for him.

I have pressed him several times (especially lately) about moving abroad and getting an IT job somewhere I could do mission work. He has been patient and understanding and when I shared my dream of visiting Thai Thai he expressed his desire to share that with me. A big deal for a man who would prefer his own bed at night.

Marriage is about helping eachother reach your goals and dreams not only what's right for you. I am proud of the fact that I have been able to play a part in seeing Wally reach dreams he wasn't even aware of and I know that my dream of giving a home to children who need it will too be realized. It may or may not happen abroad (though Thai Thai will be a wonderful flavor to taste), but I believe it will happen. I have accepted and am excited that however these things play out they will be for a reason and in their own time.

Though yes, being in a different place in life than that of when I was barely 21 and freshly married, has it's benefits - it cannot change my deepest desires or who I really am.

I won't lie. It is something I think about, every once in a while worry about, and often have to keep in check, while living in North American culture, which has a way with suffocating thoughtfully lived out life. But I have been very fortunate to cross paths with amazing people that challenge me in this area. People that are willing to share their dreams with me and believe in mine when I share them.

My new gym friend Glow shared her excitement about Thai Thai with me (her eyes seriously lit up when she spoke of it), she also sent me a link to blog about a couple that adopted 4 or 5 African children and live there running a home for orphaned and sick babies and children, often reuniting children to their parents when they are well again. Ironically, the husband was in IT and it was a forever dream of the wife.

Hmmmmm ... you never know.

Sleepless dreams can be the best.

(Now I am going to pursue some dreamless sleep!)