The battle softly lingers behind my eyes but you would not have known it had you gazed deep within for the woman wears a fair façade. Named, it would be a curt objection to conventionality that yearns to overcome a desire to have structure, stability, and the four walls that come with building a life of normalcy. For years, I have contemplated and conjured up reasons why I want the latter, but the former creeps in even in the midst of a picturesque scene – a mother now, a wife before and again, and a studious performer of the home economic arts. It appears from the outset that I have it together and the convention of marriage – motherhood… That these things suit me well, at least, on an easy day.
What if I were honest for a moment. What if the light behind my eyes gave way to the darkness of this struggle? What if you had my heart for a moment? How would you balance the will to stay with the tendency to roam, and which road would you trek yourself?
I have yet found the strength to examine this honestly, but for right now, and I am both enthralled and dangerously entangled by the notion that I could, would have to, choose. Could a woman not find peace in the depth of her greatest most gripping point of personality contention? What inside me causes me to feel restless?
For some it would be said that I am not in a right relationship with God. Simple, for some, to say this, but I know my God loves me even as I roam. Psalm 145:18 – “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” John 15:5-7 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
I adore calling on God, in times of celebration and in times of great sorrow and trial. I believe, even as I question and wander through these darkened avenues of my life that God will not abandon me and I am not less because I wander. . .
For others, it is merely a selfishness inside of me – perhaps even a dysfunction – that I would struggle this way and ever contemplate NOT staying (in the conventional life). That I simply need to “grow up” and make a commitment. That commitments are a compromise much of the time, and we give up and sacrifice parts of ourselves in order to commune with and dwell in intimate relationships with others.
I have weighed, you see, every possible argument one might give in support or opposition to either part of my plight – more than I have mentioned here, I understand even the psychological nature, and perhaps even the genetics, of my tendencies. Even the environment in which I was brought up contributes to what I concede is normal and what is not.
What conclusion I start with, yes what a paradox I know, is that I believe this struggle is intensely personal, and it encompasses everything about me – going far beyond, far deeper, than some menial shallow observation and offhand remark about my thoughts, feelings, and desires. My faith is strong and steadfast, and my loyalty is fierce and easily defended to anyone; I start here, honestly examining this, knowing I may never understand this part of myself, and that it may very well come down to a choice I will either loathe or adore – it may depend entirely on my perspective and this alone. And I may not get there until I am nearing my last breathe…
The part I wrestle with most is trying to discern whether to just make peace with my tendency to roam or to fight it off completely; have the life I was told since childhood I am supposed to have. Or, instead, I can travel to the opposite end of the spectrum and leave everything I know and become that part of myself I am in my heart – the wanderer. The uncaged songbird.
I am troubled. Deeply. Because I am so completely both, yet as though ripped at the seams where once sewn, I cannot be. Can I?
There is a dream inside my head carried with me and made stronger by challenges. For every moment I stumbled, this dream grew more filled with promise. For each moment I rested, I dwelled within the framework of my mind in a place where I could truly be free.
I am not talking about merely free from my duties as a wife. As a mother. As the person whom maintains the home, the bills, the everyday mire of an average American life. I am not meaning that I simply wish to abandon all of this – not even, for a moment do I mean this, that I resent it or wish I never had ventured here. To be clear, these things, as I said, are also deeply part of who I am.
What I mean when I say roam – what I dream about in the warmth of my heart – is the artist’s fairway down aisles of forgotten dreams. The painter as she strokes across a canvas to pour out, at last, every vision of love she’s ever conjured in her quiet heart. The wild spirit of a visionary, the intangible way she believes the world and each blade of grass and each broken soul is an integral part of interwoven fabric of life. I am the poet, the architect, the dancer, the wanderer…
And yet, I have remained steadfast in the traditional. The conventional.
Because I had only tasted this part of my soul once before, and I was younger then, full of promise and youth and naïve passion; a hunger for a man’s love loomed deep, and with him I danced free barefoot under the autumn night sky. Since that night dawned and found me yet again alone and soon in the arms of another suitor, I vacated the purpose I found once, who I was once, because I was told, and I believed, that life was not for me.
When I see that part of me again, now almost 30 with two children of my own, I wonder why I listened. Again, it is not resentment, but rather a quiet, honest look at the deepest parts of myself I wish, someday, to honor.
If I could pull apart the layers of all we are supposed to do, and I could simply live outside the realm of expectation and conventionality, I would linger here peacefully the rest of my days.
Alas, I am tasked with balancing. With finding meaning in the normalcy while yet my heart longs to fly.
Purpose is in the work at hand; great, endearing purpose. The kind that sends my heart aloft with meaning – in the eyes of my lover or my children… In the faces of those whose names I do not know that I smile to as they pass me wordless and meandering. I see purpose in even the mundane… Because my heart is an observer, and I love the littlest parts of life, because I think they are worth mention and gratitude.
Propose, my heart, that we settle this battle with a truce. Perhaps even temporarily, but enough so that I acknowledge who I am, and make peace with that for now. The unfolding of self is as the stars dwell in the heavens. The yielding to a desire to have all the answers…
A dreamer I have always been. And yet, convention found me waiting, wrecked and longing, and I grasped it headlong into the wind.
Now. Dreamer and observer, dwell within one another’s company until this woman’s eyes no more shine with hidden darkness but again shine only as brightly as the fresh morning dawn.
If I can manage this. If I can do that. Wherever my heart finds home, whether atop the rolling hills of unnamed lands or in the quiet embrace of my sleeping babes, God give me peace. God, give me purpose. God, deliver me from restlessness but allow me to be beautifully, wonderfully made – knowing I will have the answers, and You will be beside me, in Your time. Grant me serenity as I wait. Grant me wisdom as I wait. . . These days will be easier as I let the control go and trust, as I grow and believe in the grandeur of the journey, that it will all be exactly as it is supposed to be. No matter where I roam or where I remain.