(Photo found here)
Years ago, probably close to 20 now, a friend of my boyfriend at the time asked me what I like to do. I rattled off a string of things that I did with this particular boyfriend. He had known the guy since high school and knew the things that I listed were all his stuff. So, he said, “That’s what Mark likes to do, what do you like to do?” This was one of those moments when your world goes into slow motion and you watch yourself out of body. After a long pause, I meekly said, “I don’t know.” It was almost inaudible. The time after you say those words you either crash and burn or you decide to change directions. I’m not a crash and burn kinda gal. So, I changed directions.
How do you find yourself after you have forgotten who you are? I kept a scrapbook. It wasn’t pretty, nothing I would show off but it was the best tool for the process I went through to find myself again. In that book I put everything that intrigued me. It had bits of religion, politics, flowers I liked, articles about current events I wanted to remember, songs, lyrics and musical artists I liked and photos of people I admire. I could look inside it and see myself and that started me back on the road I forgot I was on.
When I was 8 my Brownie troop leader Mrs. McCormick took us on a five mile hike through Standing Stone State Park. Of all the things I’d done in my 8 years that was the thing that stood out most. I loved it. I never stopped looking back on it with fondness.
I had 2 boys and wanted to find a way to engage them in boyhood things in case there was never a permanent man in our life to play that role. I didn’t have a clue what sort of outings we could find to do that little boys normally gravitate to since I never played sports. I thought about my hiking trip and decided they might love it as much as I did. When they were still too young to stay home alone we went hiking almost every weekend during the months the weather was cooler and hiking became my thing. They eventually gave it up when they were old enough to stay home but I never have.
When I had time to myself I found my own adventures to feel at peace in my life.
A few those of times I drove to an open field that belonged to a friend’s family and sat in the middle of it listening to Billie Holiday. Once I took a notion to pull off my clothes and run through the high grass while the music blared. It felt like the highest form of freedom. It was a world I could control where no one knew and the tall grass didn’t judge me.
I’d go to the lake alone and lay on the bank, look up at the stars and lights from the dam and listen to nothing but quiet. I’d lay there and wonder if everyone in the world stopped fighting for a bit and did the same thing I was doing, at the same time I did it, if they would take up arms again when they all resumed life’s daily activity. Could everyone feeling and hearing that much peace at the same time heal them/heal us all? I wished so hard that it could.
At one point I lost my job and with my severance and unemployment I decided that I had to take advantage of not having to go to a job for 8 hours a day. I knew that being a single parent I wouldn’t have many opportunities like this. I scoured the paper for things I could do. I found lots of things but the one that intrigued me most was going to group meditation at the Very Center. I probably attended every weekly session for a least 6 months. It changed me so much. I will always be grateful for what meditation has taught me and brought to my life.
I can’t tell you all the ways I’ve changed since that question in one blog post. Needless to say Jamie Beaty changed my life the day he asked me the simple question, “What do you like to do?” and didn’t let me BS my way out of answering.
If you can take away anything from this post let it be that you should know yourself. Don’t go through life without finding your own answer to the question, “What do you like to do?” The answer to that question defines you. You need your own definition, not someone else's.