I stared into the mirror, began to cry, and screamed to the Italian countryside: “YOU DID IT.”
June 19, 2016, to June 19, 2017, and the setting hasn’t changed. Still in the countryside, but from one country to another, the circumstances have changed -- useless to useful. A happier disposition and a purpose, Italy seems to be more obliging to my work-hard ways although communication isn’t my strongest skill set. I feel welcomed here; I feel wanted.
Yesterday. It feels like yesterday that I felt otherwise. Sometimes I wonder if my purpose is to live a million clichés, or that every enormous situation in my life can be explained with a Beatles song.
My troubles always feel close.
My mother’s voice does come to me, but she tells me to “be happy. Just breathe.” (Her name is not Mary.)
I don’t live in a yellow submarine.
There is probably nothing in the way I move that attracts anyone more than any other lover.
Yet there are still enough to remind me that my life mimics the lives of others so much they’ve been turned into songs. That’s humanity for you, I suppose.
Being here on this beautiful hillside, walking down a rocky road, I realized my life circled 360 degrees as I looked down at the clothes I wore: a cuffed t-shirt made of a slightly-heavy mixed cotton blend, three rings on three fingers, a watch, a pair of workout shorts, and a pair of red TOMS.
Those rings? Wow. They are stupid. All they do is bring me pain when I rake the hay together to form a stack. These shoes lack any traction or grip whatsoever as I fumble down the hill. If they weren’t light and easy to pack, I would have burned them by now. Can’t imagine what a person who loves wearing high heels would think of this scenario.
Dresses I wore every day in America, easy to slip on and off, would make sweating in the Italian sun unbearable. My workout shorts fail me – there are not enough pockets to carry around the small tools and clips necessary for yard work. I wish I brought a hat – the sun scalds my scalp.
Everything here, even my clothes, demands purpose. There is a reason for everything.
Coincidentally, one year ago I asked myself: “Where did my purpose go?”
I thought a country like China would provide me with this missing idea. The challenge, the demanding environment, the new job – I thought I could manipulate myself to find any form or shape. While my sheer will and determination allowed for a lot more change that I expected of myself, I had to remain myself and that had limits. What does a woman in her early twenties know about limitations?
To this day, I acknowledge limits only to recognize how to overcome them. I now know you can’t use brute force to get through everything. There is more to everything in the world than just yourself. Connection pervades everything, and the best moments during which to witness this are the ones never expected.
A life well lived – we all want this. The human body will always be the best resource. Its thoughts and its physical abilities – each piece serving oneself with flawless perfection when its time arises. The hand that holds tight, pushes and pulls. Words escaping the mouth soothe the soul, coming from a person with purpose. With any given problem, the mind cycles through solutions while the other aspects of the body solve. No matter what one’s disabilities in life, this capacity holds steadfast.
It is at this age that many people ask me: “what do you want to do with your life?” Apparently, I need to have the right answer right now. Whether I hash out the answer or I deliver it straight, it comes down to something resembling fame or remembrance – a sense of reverence.
But maybe, the greatness that we often seek is not one that belongs on a pedestal. It belongs within. The questions I pose myself no longer lead me to fame by the world, but to pride in the works I accomplish. I begin by making sure I am the best leader of myself. This is true greatness, and if that greatness aligns me with the word “admirable,” so be it.
Nevertheless, I stare up at a pedestal of history’s famous heroes, city’s monuments to the founders of something larger than themselves, and I never remember the name of that one girl/guy on that bronze statue. I only remember that there is a statue at all.
If I focus less on personal claim and attachment to the work that I do – if I attempt to remove the goal of gaining fame – and instead focus on the quality of the work instead, then maybe I will find peace.
And when I find peace, I will find purpose.