For most of our early lives, there is some sort of plan, usually revolving around our education. Start preschool/kindergarten. Graduate from elementary school. Graduate from junior high (or middle school, if you're from anywhere besides my hometown). Graduate from high school. Graduate from college. Along the way, we formulate an idea of what our future is going to look like. We create hopes and expectations, all based on which classes we're going to take and which major we decide to pursue. (Quick side note: I'm aware that this is not how everyone's life goes, and that we all take different paths, especially after high school. However, I think it's safe to generalize about this particular topic, and I can't speak to any experience but my own, so here we are.) It's easy to have our ducks in a row, because those ducks are how many credits we need, which courses will fulfill them, and which study abroad program will benefit us most. I mean, we practically have a checklist for our ducks.
Near the end of college, and immediately after, things start to get a little dicey. As our checklist of required courses narrows, and we settle into crafting our senior paper (who am I kidding; I wrote that entire thing last minute), we start to look beyond the final semester of college, and we realize that we have no idea what we're doing.
I should probably switch up the pronoun at this point, because this is about when my personal journey branched off on its own. I had no idea what I was doing. I was getting a degree in sociology with nary a career path in sight. I was about to embark on a crazy semester abroad to Costa Rica to "study Spanish" in order to "get my Spanish minor" (which I did, thank you very much). So college ended, I went to the beach for four months, and in the meantime, my ducks slowly...waddled...astray. Row demolished.
So what did I do? I came home, got a corporate desk job, and wallowed in misery and self-pity. A year and a half later, the dream of relocating to California came to fruition, and as I spent the months leading up to it planning and organizing my life around the big move, I was finally able to chase down a few ducks. My life had purpose! I was going places (literally)! I had a reason to make a check list again!
Then we arrived in California. We found an apartment, procured jobs...and those damn ducks wandered again (are you getting tired of this metaphor yet?). Because now that I'm settled in and free to start figuring out which direction I want to go with my life...I once again realize that I have no idea what I'm doing.
I've done a lot of thinking about this (so it's okay that I'm using my duck photos as an excuse to write this post, becuse it was in the works anyway), and I've come to a conclusion of sorts. It all comes down to this: do I wait for another Big Event to come along in order to seek out my ducks and start ushering them back into place? Or do I instead see life itself as the Big Event, and start going out with my duck-catching net (which I will invent myself if I have to, because I can assure you, no ducks will be harmed in the making of this life) and snagging those quacky little bastards on my own volition, continuing to do so on a daily basis, even if it means re-capturing the same ones over and over again as they escape the confines of the row?
Like I said, I've thought about this a lot. And you know what? I choose the latter. I choose life.
I can either sit around waiting for something to happen to me, or waiting to find a purpose, or I can make life my purpose. And once I have a purpose (because that's really all those plans were all along, if you think about it; my purpose was to graduate, fulfill requirements, further my education), that's when the ducks start to fall into line. This doesn't mean it won't get messy (bird shit is no laughing matter), but the messiness just turns purpose into an adventure, which makes it fun, which makes it awesome.
So now I want to make a declaration. I want to tell you what my purpose is, so that I no longer have excuses, and so that you can hold me accountable to myself when I start moaning and groaning about not knowing what the hell is going on in my life, what is the meaning in all of this, etc. etc. (because believe you me, this will happen more than once).
Here it is: I want to be a writer. And I want to be a photographer. I want to do these things for a living. As a career. Not a hobby. And with you as my witness, I am making these aspirations my purpose. I am not going to hide from them any more, and I am not going to wait around until I get all of my ducks in a row to make them happen. Instead, they will become the motivation in and of themselves. They will be the inspiration that guides the ducks to the row (or at least to my net). Purpose = the first duck. The rest will follow.
All right, enough with the ducks, already. I think I've beaten that dead horse with a stick for a little too long. *insert other animal metaphors here*
Well, maybe one more for good measure.