"And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?
"It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out. I want to repeat one word for you: Leave.
"Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."
I've probably read that piece 10 times by now; it makes every cell in my body buzz with life.
Let me tell you, having a restless spirit is inconvenient at times. There are moments when it's quiet, when it whispers, "This is good. Keep doing this." And then, as if waking up from a long nap it shouts, "Time to move on!" And it dances around inside my body until I comply.
I was 16, halfway through my sophomore year and decided I just didn't want to go to high school anymore. I started missing school, distancing myself from everyone because well, they just didn't get it. I saw the world differently than my high school peers. I didn't think I was any better, just...different, and I needed out. I felt chained to an identity that high school demands of you and I didn't want that. My spirit pushed and pushed and caused a lot of depression and anxiety in me until I had to just ask my mom, "Can I quit?" Luckily she was understanding and let me do my thing. I am ever grateful for that because leaving high school three years early allowed me to follow my own path, start college at 17, and finally feel like I could be myself.
I was around 26 when the next big shift came. I was living in Tennessee with my boyfriend, had a good job, didn't have a lot of responsibility as far as bills went. A pretty easy life, and I felt okay for awhile, but I knew something was brewing inside. I became increasingly depressed about my position: working a desk job eight hours a day, not really feeling like I was doing much with my life, shopping for happiness, etc. I knew something had to change, but I wasn't sure what or how. Things were too quiet, too complacent, and my spirit hated it. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), when you don't do something to change your situation, it gets changed for you. The boyfriend broke up with me out of the clear blue and forced me to make a move. Life was no longer predictable, and although heartbreaking as it was, my spirit was sighing in relief.
But I didn't learn the lesson my spirit was trying to teach me and went right back into a life of complacency not too long afterward. I followed a societal dream, scrambled to start a career in something I could have cared less about, and forgot what I was really after. I shopped even more than before because the glossies and the TV told me to. They told me I'd be complete if I just had this one thing. But it never worked and stuff became meaningless and overbearing. On top of that, I wanted out of my job. I couldn't take working for someone else anymore or doing things that didn't mean squat to me. Four months ago my spirit practically shouted at me to get out and there would be no rest until I did.
So here I am four months later, working for myself, freelance writing, still paying the bills, thank God. And life's been good, but I feel my spirit tapping once again. "Time to get a move on," she says. My way of looking at life continues to shift. What was once so normal to me now seems silly. I purge myself of stuff, find peace in simplicity, long for adventure and new ways of life. The US of A no longer satisfies these deep needs. Even if for some reason I had to stay here, I'd have to get far away from the cities, even the towns, live in a tent in the desert or something.
Most of all, I trust when my spirit dances and it is dancing to the tune of Donald Miller's prayer and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eastern adventures and life beyond this bubble I've known.
Something has to change.