Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Saying goodbye to Oz

I had a dream that gave way to huge plans. That is one defining mark of my twenties that, at times, I look back on with a wistful sigh. I had a couple years of wandering about sandwiched between college and graduate school, where I was trying to figure out the next step of the plan, that weren't part of the plan in my book, though I grew to appreciate them for the experiences gained and relationships built. But all in all, I was moving forward, gaining ground, on the road to becoming someone I thought would be successful.

And then life happened to the plan. And as plans often go, it flashed illusively before my eyes before disappearing like a mirage I reached out to touch on a hot summer day.

I've learned some interesting things about myself through the curveballs of life the past couple of years. I like plans. Oh, I like to fancy myself to be an entirely spontaneous, free-spirited, wherever-the-wind-blows sort of girl, but I've learned the painful truth about myself. When it comes to life, not just extracurricular activities or vacations, I crave a plan. I want a blueprint. I want a dream, a vision, something to sink my time into and invest in. I'm a dreamer. Perhaps that's why the end of my twenties and beginning of my thirties has felt so strange, as if I've actually slipped backward in time. I don't have a plan anymore. I don't even have a dream.

I remember watching the Wizard of Oz. How Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow imagined the Wizard of Oz to be this powerful, omniscient, full of wisdom and strength sort of being who could bestow on them the things they sought after. When they reached his headquarters and finally caught sight of him, so small and ordinary and unimpressive behind the curtain, it was such a let down. Turns out he wasn't a wizard at all.

In some ways, I can identify with that non-wizard of Oz. I think for much of the decade of my twenties, I was a lot like him. When life finally pulled down the curtain to reveal just an ordinary girl, it was both shock and relief to myself. I was just me. And I suppose that was the first huge step, to not run and hide when that curtain was pulled down. But now, in my first year of the thirties, I'm wondering if the next big step isn't to leave Oz all together.

This idea that I have control over my life is merely an illusion, and one I'm painfully, yet gratefully, acquainted with. After all, it does me no favors in the long run to live under an illusion. But strangely, I seem to have the phantom-limb thing going on, where after my arm was cut off my brain wants me to think and act like it's still there. The plan I so carefully controlled for much of my twenties has long been cut off, and yet, I still want to think and act like it's still there. Of course, it's not. And I'm not the same person I was before. At some point, I need to accept that my plan's been scrapped and that I have an invitation to leave behind this imaginary land of Oz and embrace the mystery and adventure of another plan.

My counselor recently pointed out to me that there can be great freedom in not putting my hope in future dreams. Embracing today fully doesn't leave a lot of room for trying to re-imagine the past or fret about the future. Could it be that God's plan for my life is not so much a specific set of steps and achievements to be completed as it is a vast treasure of daily experiences - encounters with the ordinary and with the Divine - to be savored?

I'm packing my bags, getting ready to leave Oz. I'd like to say I'm leaving today, but I'm not sure when it will actually happen. But I imagine as I'm walking out the dusty road and the city gleams behind me in its mirage-like attraction, I will wave goodbye and shed the last vestiges of my costume. Where I'm going, I need no costume. Simply being myself, carrying the presence of God inside of me wherever I go, will be enough. Now the challenge is to let go of the phantom and believe.

1 comment:

  1. I also love plans...it's hard for us not to wish our lives away!