continuing

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I spent part of this past summer walking across Northern Spain. Following in the footsteps of pilgrims centuries before me, I too sought the “way.” I sought answers. I sought peace.

Despite my daily seeking, I didn’t have any grand revelations. Rather, each day I had much the same revelations: tired eyes, sore calves, swollen ankles, and bed bug bites all over my body. Each day I was met with frustration as I encountered dozens of pilgrims with whom I was not bold enough to engage in conversation, despite so badly wanting to know their reasons for walking.

While I was fortunate enough to hear stories of heartache, hunger, and even happiness from those who freely shared along the journey, I wanted more. Indeed, listening to such stories began to awaken something within me.

* * *

It’s been many months since I’ve laced up my old hiking boots in anticipation of a day of walking, and even longer since I’ve last posted here.

Much change has taken place. I’ve moved to a new city, started graduate school, and even became someone who takes the train every morning (for some reason, this seems to be very important to me). I’ve repeatedly heard that same nagging voice that first announced itself in Spain, and despite being afraid, I’ve begun to listen to it. I’ve gone on more “coffee dates” than I have in the last 25 years and have heard dozens of stories, of both tragedy and triumph, and have been filled with so much life as a result.

While I am growing into someone I never dreamed I’d be – someone who is less critical of her ever-present shortcomings…someone who is slowly learning to say “yes” a whole lot more than I say “no,” such growth is unsettling. In acknowledging this growth, I have also been forced to acknowledge where I came from. I have been forced to confront my past, the past that I try to ignore, yet can’t seem to escape.

* * *

Two years ago, when darkness seemed to engulf my everything, I wrote about purpose, pain, and direction. I had just purchased a simple necklace – a piece of string with a small arrow charm hanging from it. As arrows need to be pulled backward before they can fly forward, the necklace reminded me that in order to become self-actualized, I would need to trudge through much of the mess I had stored away and claimed as part of my past.

I now once again find myself thinking about that arrow as I am struggling to confront my personhood. I feel as if I am currently being pulled backward, with no possibility for forward thrust in this season. This may sound metaphysical, but it feels oh-so-real. Let me explain. I feel tension whenever I hear my name leave someone else’s lips. I struggle to think I am being perceived as a being with her own thoughts, opinions, and feelings. I am befuddled that I possess the ability to leave an impression on others.

Sometimes, being in this world seems more than I can bear.

After spending two decades living in the background and feeling invisible, much like a ghost, I don’t know how to be flesh and bones. I don’t know how to respond to being seen. Ironically, as I continue to meet people and hear their stories that illustrate both the beauty and tragedy of life, I am, in turn, allowing them to see me. Once you swap stories with another, you can’t help but become connected to them.

As exhausting as it is to start over and meet new people, it has always been easier for me to do so than to continue pursuing existing relationships and to forge real connections. Continuing means living out the conversations that take place after the initial “tell me your life story.” Continuing means navigating awkward silences. Continuing means repeatedly showing up in the monotony of everyday life and allowing yourself to be known…to be known not only for the words you share, but for the ones you don’t.

Honestly, right now, I don’t want to continue. Continuing means being more than a nameless face with a fascinating story. It means abandoning my identity as an “other” (see any, or all, of my previous posts) in the hopes of belonging. It means letting my future take precedence over my past.

* * *

I spent part of this past summer walking across Northern Spain. Following in the footsteps of pilgrims centuries before me, I too sought the “way.” I sought answers. I sought peace.

Despite my daily seeking, I didn’t have any grand revelations until today, six months later. I didn’t realize when I set out on that cobblestone path with all of my possessions on my back that I would end up here. Confused. Scared.

But strangely, enveloped in a swell of peace…

Indeed, reflecting on the past many months, I can see the arrows that have both literally and metaphorically lined my path. In retrospect, I’m realizing that peace doesn’t mean that everything will be okay. In fact, I don’t know if everything will ever be “okay;” isn’t that the reason why so many pilgrims continue to seek?  Peace is doing the hard things and pushing onward even when you feel you cannot.

I’m still waiting for the day when those arrows once again begin their forward motion. I’m still attempting to navigate through uncharted territory and don’t know how this story will play out. While I find myself unsure of my next steps, for the sake of peace, I know I need to try to continue.

I wish you peace and hope you’ll do the same.

 

6 Comments on “continuing

  1. This is so good, Danica! You have come so far and are definitely someone who “can leave an impression” on others. I cannot wait for the time when every one of those arrows begin to soar to the Heavens! Love you always. <3

  2. Very well written, as always. It’s true and deep and honest, and I wish you peace as you continue.

  3. Hi Danica
    I’m so proud of you! You’ve come so far and I know you will continue on with much success. Always cheering for you!!
    Laurie Wincek💕

  4. I love that you can so easily pull us in, the reader to navigate along this life’s journey with you. You always manage to put to words so eloquently, your deepest thoughts and personal feelings. Its all about the journey, isn’t it, and discovering ourselves, and carving out own path along the way. I love seeing how you have grown so much from when you first started writing. Your writings always seem to make me reflect inwardly too… and I thank you for that.

    Love ya, Aunt Cookie xoxo

  5. Danica those arrows are waiting to soar. You have come so far. You should be so proud of yourself. Your writings are so beautiful. You also have a beautiful soul. God bless.

  6. Danica, this was so good, and once again, this one speaks to me. Thank you for sharing, oh real and beautiful and courageous lady – you never know how many people you are encouraging!!