This AA slogan has one meaning: It encourages us to let go of little things. However, I’m beginning to see its application in another area. That is, II want to invest my energy wisely. I want to do things that matter to me in life because, like it or not, we all only have a certain amount of time that we can play with and accomplish or do things in our lives. So what do I want to do? The answer to that question has changed over the years: I want to be a doctor like Dad, I want to be a linguist, I want to write creatively/write movie scripts because I love movies, I want to teach English overseas so I can travel anywhere and support myself, I want to get married, I want to get out of here, I want to go back to France, I want to teach French, I want to marry the love of my life, I want to follow my dreams/my passion.
But can we ever have one driving passion? I guess if I had to pinpoint mine, it would be related to honesty, authenticity, recognition of others’ importance and acceptance of self and others. Gaga puts it well in “Hair:” “I just wanna be free. I just wanna be me. And I want lots of friends to invite me to their parties. Don’t wanna change, and I don’t wanna be ashamed.”
But how to be free? Being my own boss, living where I want to, and not being weighted down with stuff. Freedom cannot come from possession or acquisition but in being and appreciating what is. My comfortable house and nice things distract me from that and having those things requires working a job that can often take the life right out of me (no exaggeration).
My husband and I talk about how we feel we give our best energy to our work and come home empty, drained, exhausted. We had little or no force left to engage in activities that enriched our lives, and we asked the question: What are we killing ourselves for? Money/lifestyle, achievement, status/recognition, and security seemed insignificant with the price we paid every day. Some days I literally felt that I was growing older or dying from how much of myself I expended. But what horrified me the most was that it was never enough. I could never do enough, prepare enough, finish enough to satisfy myself or, I imagined by proxy, others. Me: “So I’m using up all of my power at work and leaving none for myself so that I can buy or save up for things that I want or for some future situation like children, education, recreation, or retirement because society thinks I should but get little to no satisfaction in the present moment because I’m A) dead tired B) cranky from low energy C) asleep D) at work or thinking about it.” American Society: “Right, of course that’s what you should do. Get a flat screen and an iPhone. Got them? Ok, now get the newer and bigger ones.” Me: “Wait… WHAT?!” Don’t get me wrong; I like stuff. But it’s not worth giving up my power, freedom, and life for.
After a lot of struggling and frustration and thinking, my husband and I realized we had to go for our dream: Move to France and have a different life. I’ve had this dream since about 2006 and my husband has had it since about 2008, and it has kept me up nights. I feel France pulling me back like the moon beckons the tide. Now we’re climbing out by our fins and going for a moon launch. We’re young, fluent and semi-fluent in French, haven’t started a family yet. But it’s not simple, there are 2,000 steps to take before we can leave this summer for what I feel is to be the greatest adventure of our lives. This shared dream helped to pull us together like gravity, and it helps propel us forward and put our lives in perspective.
Stay tuned as I streamline my life, make sacrifices like you wouldn’t believe, and possibly go for broke because, baby, we’re going to France!