Saturday, March 5, 2011

Swimming Alone

This is kinda the saddest thing I've ever heard. It reminds me of what you go through if you're choosing to use your own voice. Lately I've rediscovered myself, and it's like a fog has lifted. Once you find your swing it's pretty easy to send pitch after pitch out of the ballpark (think Bobby Abreu in Round 1 of the 2005 Home Run Derby at Comerica Park). It's a lot happier story than this one, but I was quick to illuminate the parallels, perhaps inappropriately. The truth is, it's not always necessarily about choosing to walk a certain path in life. Sometimes, if you finally get around to being yourself, you'll find that your own voice is one that either echoes across empty spaces or that rings true with a lot of people...sometimes both at the same time. Choosing your voice is one thing, discovering it's uniqueness is another.

Lately I've stumbled into something of a belief system that finds me with less and less company but more and more support, which I reassure myself means that I'm entirely on the right path. I'm sleeping less, working harder, discovering myself and smiling far more frequently...all that and I've scantly got a minute of the day to breathe. After Wednesday's presentation I've been swamped with requests for new presentations, bombarded with requests to help or get involved, and no less than four or five really, really fun opportunities to step into classrooms and talk more intimately with smaller groups of kids, from elementary schools through to senior level social studies classes. Kinda makes me wonder why I never spoke up earlier? I suppose we find our voice no sooner than we choose to use it.

I went from bumbling along, "following the energy", as a friend called my propensity for change, to tripping into some experiences that illuminated light on those places I hadn't seen before because of the shadows. Aside from some sincerely profound experiences I had nothing to lean on in terms of what qualified me to be doling out help in such heaping quantities, but by summer's end I'll have completed my addictions studies, found myself working as a certified Grief Recovery Counselor, and attaching the label of Crisis and Trauma Counselor and School Specialist to my name. That's kind of messed up... that all of that could happen so fast. Strangely enough, I sought almost none of it. I like to think that it found me. I've certainly been courting it's favor for a long time, but it seems particularly odd to find myself being all of those things. Most importantly, it seems particularly odd that my experiences preceded my certifications. I believe very strongly that such a sequence was vital to finding my own voice, and to distancing myself from the pack of people with diplomas and degrees strung proudly from their walls.

The kids I find so generously lighting my way don't give two shits about what's hanging from your wall, or how your resume reads. Very much like joining the Marines, I think on most occasions those individuals making such a commitment were already Marines, certainly long before basic training. The uniform didn't make them a Marine as much as their belief system did. The uniform and name followed the perspectives and the character. I like that model of development. It leans heavily on the notion of walking the walk rather than just talking the talk. I've learned, quite convincingly, that learning who you are should always precede becoming something more than what you are.

Finding your voice feels a lot like breathing for the very first time. I've certainly learned that we've got more than one set of first steps in our lives, and it's a shame that we pay most attention to the ones we take as a baby. It took a lifetime to learn that sometimes swimming alone is better than swimming with the wrong company in the wrong direction.


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