It’s Saturday. I awoke in a bit of a haze. Anxious and unshowered, I pulled on some slobby clothes and scrambled over to my favorite greasy breakfast joint to madly cram for my Economics exam. It was one of the most important exams of my life, because failing it meant getting booted out of the class and the GDBA program. I cannot afford any more loans or tuition. I also know, though, that what I’ve learned in the program is extremely valuable, even if I don’t end up with that piece of paper.
I was happy that I’d pulled some concepts together to form a ‘big picture’ of the material, despite the fact that I didn’t really know alot of the material well. It all seemed to come together in the end, and the exam was relatively forgiving (barely any graphs or calculations). I stumbled out in a bit of a haze, but was relieved and feeling well about how I answered the questions (and that I was able to answer most of them at least half-assedly). I also found several messages on my phone from caring folks wishing me well on the exam and others just saying hi, which really gave me strength.
After a few phone calls, I wandered to Tinseltown, which has amazing and cheap Thai food in the food court, and I sat perfectly content there reading the Johnny Cash autobiography. I then went upstairs and realized I’d missed the start of the two movies that piqued my interest immediately: Burlesque and Howl. So I picked one called Fair Game, knowing nothing really about it, but knowing that I like Sean Penn. I was kind of thinking that there was a reason for this timing, but I didn’t know what it was, since I was just looking to relax and unwind and enjoy being by myself.
During the movie, I didn’t get the whole story in the sense of fully following it, and was a bit distracted by the usual Hollywood elements, but I also noticed that the storyline certainly wasn’t typical Hollywood, so figured it was probably based on a true story, which it was. I was also still a little in ‘econ’ thinking mode, which is a bigger political bag in itself, and that helped with some of the realizations that came next. Pleasantly perplexed and deeply focussed, I headed to the 711 for a pack of bus tickets and a grapefruit Slurpee, then walked (partway) home in the rain, through the cold dark streets of the poorest postal code in Canada.
The movie basically clarified my next task: to learn to speak. For real.
It reminded me of the kind of relationship I want to have, but also of the kind of LIFE I want to have. Then it hit me: this is why I’m NOT in a relationship, or settled down, or even tied down with other commitments, and this is why I keep craving that free-spirit thing, keep getting signs that I’m not meant to settle. That is why I get so neurotic about trivial things: my brain (soul) needs a way higher level of stimulation than that. I’m able to see the big picture, to communicate, to GET it, but I’ve only recently realized what recognizing these things and being bold in them can do. I have a tremendous capacity (empathy, agency, intelligence, time, energy) to truly devote myself to something bigger, like, a ‘calling’. It sounds so flaky, (and maybe even egotistical), but honestly, what else IS there?
Part of my realization was that I could relate to the stoicism of the character Valerie in the movie. And I could relate to her husband – or at least to wanting to be with someone like that, someone bold, full of conviction and integrity; someone that is sometimes called an asshole because he’s not afraid to speak out; someone who will fight to for his family and for the world.
Many other things came together that pointed to this, and I still don’t know exactly what it is, I just know I have to keep my ears and eyes open for it to present itself to me, and in the meantime really take care of myself and drop the trivial things, which probably bore me to death and I don’t even realize it. There is a higher level focus that I absolutely require to be real and live (give) fully. A huge part of this is about recognizing fears, taking risks.
The message of the movie was to speak out, which throughout my life this has remained one of my biggest fears. While I have learned to accept myself as not naturally ‘outgoing’ or a ‘performer’, I only recently really realized that I have courage and conviction and things to say, and that I’m pretty good at communicating n general (this includes listening). So, speaking (publicly) might just be that next fear to push through in order to get to this calling.
I really do have alot to offer and I need to devote that to a greater purpose. I have the energy, focus, agency to truly DO something. I don’t want things and I don’t want to start a family, which leaves the space for something else (I want to say something ‘greater’ but I don’t mean to belittle the task of raising a family! It’s just not ‘my’ current purpose).
I wanted Toastmasters to do this but never followed through.