If I asked you, and if I demanded honesty at a perfunctory level, top-of-the-head-off-the-cuff-no-room-for-over-analyzing-honesty, what life you believe you’re born for, what would you say? No really, I want you, all of you who can or wish to, to answer, and to do so immediately, before reading the rest of this. What is the life you are born to live? What does it look like, what roads will it lead you down, are those dark roads are ones bathed in sunlight? Are you predisposed for the bright side, or do you find yourself more often in the shadows? Are you for the highways, or are you for the stormy lanes? These questions, my friends, they matter, and we don’t ask ourselves them enough. We forget to stop, to take our own life’s temperature, to gauge if who we are, what we’re doing, how we’re living, is true to who we actually are. I know this to be true, I see it daily in those I know and love, I hear from you constantly and I see the effect it has. Debilitating, crushing, stifling, heartbreaking, these words are only a few of those used when you reach out to me, when you tell me you don’t feel fulfilled doing what you’re doing, living how you’re living, and it happens often enough that I felt the need to address it, to throw it into this Signal Fire and hope its embers find you wherever you are, reading this, hearing this, today.
What life were YOU born for? I think sometimes Signal Fire is a place that answers questions, maybe ones you didn’t even know you were asking, I hope it is at least and I trust that if it isn’t, you’ll tell me dammit, but sometimes, Signal Fire is also a place that asks questions. Big questions. Hard to answer questions. I think sometimes, my job here is to hold a mirror up and ask you to look into it, all the while whispering those questions through the glass. That sounded extraordinarily creepy, apologies, but I really do mean it. Sometimes I ask questions that I think once answered, can bring about a shift in perspective, a shift of path. I ask questions of you because I’ve asked those questions about myself, and upon answering, felt that shift too. This is one of those, this is that.
I have learned much of myself over the 4 decades (good gravy I am old) that I’ve kicked around, and chiefly among the lessons that stuck, was that it is not wise to fight the way you’re made. It is not advisable to ignore the truth of what you’re built for, to refuse to allow it. For years I tried to convince myself I was some eternal optimist, some sunny-road-tap-dancin-son-of-a-bitch that always saw the glass as half full. I tried to tweak my perspective, read books on improving, I tried to fake it until I could make it, but the truth is, I don’t always see things that way. I’m not a pessimist, but my Autism has always made me see the truth of the situation, be it bad, or be it good. I believe I’ve always naturally erred on the side of realism, and sometimes, realism is painfully honest. Sometimes, realism means you are on a dark and winding road, not a sun saturated perfectly paved bit of tarmac or some yellow brick road that leads to some shining city of emerald. Sometimes, things suck, sometimes, things hurt, sometimes it’s all we can do to not break the glass we’re holding no matter how full or empty it may be. This is the truth of it for me, and until I stopped fighting the way I was made, I felt guiltier than I needed, more exhausted than I should, and like I was always letting myself down. When I stopped, the joy came. Joy in the form of finding beauty in the sorrows that find us, finding the light worth chasing when it feels like all others have gone out, joy in the form of understanding that the hard parts of our life have just as much value as the easy, if not more, if not always.
When I stopped fighting the way I was made, it opened me up to living the life I was born for. It led me to saying yes to scary things that brought my eyes to places that would change the way they saw everything else. It led me to trying things I knew I would fail at, as the fear of that failure was no longer a roadblock to the experience itself. I’m a dark road, stormy lane, light chasing idiot, and I know this now, and it’s ok. It’s ok that I’m sad a lot for reasons I don’t fully understand, that I ache for a time that won’t return, a way of existing that isn’t really possible to achieve. I like sad songs and sad movies and hate it when it’s sunny outside, I choose rainfall and thunderstorm and really do believe that lightning wants to finish what she started with me. Maybe one day she will. Maybe when she does, I’ll be ready to go, after all, I was born for the storming.
So I ask you again, what life were you born for? How are you made, and are you fighting that in some desperate attempt to be something you aren’t? What would happen, my goodness, what would happen if you just set it down and shook it up and let yourself be as you were meant to be? You tell me, and tell me when you’re ready. Either way, I’ll be there, halfway down some stormy lane with some temperamental sea singing in the distance, waiting to meet you.
Born for a wild life
a wandering existence,
born for the dark road.