Monday, July 27, 2009

Blurred Vision

I've been pondering the whole see-it-say-it-create-it belief system. I do believe in it but I think it has some caveats worth paying attention to. I was talking with a friend one night last week about how much clearer things are for me these days - I can see the life I want better than ever but it's not entirely in focus yet. It's enough for me to have something to build on but it's not yet crystal clear. It's like standing at Penn Station (or a million different places in D.C.) and clearly seeing the Washington Monument. But there are streets to navigate and a whole mall in between, as well as lines to wait in. It's not necessarily a straight shot to get there once you arrive at that train stop and start heading in that direction.

My friend thought it wasn't a good thing to not see it clearly. I understood why she said that. A lot of people say it, after all. Normally you need to clearly see your vision in order to obtain it. The more in focus it is, the better your focus can be on the goal. But I had to think about that a second. I had experience with focusing on a vision and I knew that at least once in my life, I had passions and desires to do a myriad of seemingly random things that may have appeared to others to be me simply occupying my own time in a strange city I did not grow up or attend college in. When I first started work on a master's in Religious Studies my father asked me what I was going to do with the degree. "Beats me. I only know I can do a chaplain internship through this program and I'm going to pay for it all myself, one class at a time." Eleven classes and I don't know how many years later, I got to the point where I needed to write my thesis and be done. One day I'll do that. But I got what I wanted - the chaplain experience.

At the same time I was volunteering with AmeriCorps and worked for a social service agency during the day while I was working my regular, full-time night job as a copy editor. I was the editor of and one of the writers for my church newsletter for five years during this time. "What are you going to do with these things?" is a question I got a lot. I'd only smile and say, "beats me. I just know I want to do this." But here's my question back: Why does one always have to know what they are going to do?

Passions are there to help propel you to a greater goal of which you know nothing about. Only God knows. I believe that following your heart/passions is always worthwhile, even if you can't always see where you are going and even if it seems like a really pointless pursuit to the rest of the world or even to yourself.

So I thought about my friend's comment about a clear goal and I finally surmised that a clear goal can sometimes work against you. I think if you always know the exact end, you may possibly be a little lazy in the work to get to that end. I mean, if you knew the end, risks wouldn't be risks but sure things and isn't the excitement in the risk sometimes? If you knew the exact end, wouldn't the road essentially be easy, not the obstacle-ridden path that builds patience, character and wisdom? If the end is always clearly in view, would you even go the direction that has those unexpected sidetracks that lead to something unexpectedly fruitful? And then, consequently, if you're so busy knowing the end and not working toward the unknown, can you ever get to that end?

I'm thinking you have to have a vision, it just doesn't always have to be a clear one. But having that vision isn't enough. You have to be willing to follow your heart's map to get there and open to dealing with the surprises along the way. About 11 years after I started doing those myriad of things that never quite flowed together on a resume, I learned of a job with a start-up company that made my eyes go wide as I read about the job duties and type of person they sought. Everything I had done up until that moment had come together in that one position. I couldn't have purposely prepared for it if I tried. The start-up has been my best job venture to date (It's been 4 years now) as it not only utilizes all the things I love to do but I watch entrepreneurship at its best as I continue to build my own business.

Right now I can still see generalities when it comes to my future, though some specifics have gotten very clear this year. I still don't know exactly how I'm going to get to the Promised Land and admittedly, the desert is a scary place so I may be intentionally closing my eyes to some things. But I know I will get there and I know blind trust is a huge part of how I'll get there and I'm OK with that.

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