I was told as a child that I had a path, that there was a plan for me. This path wasn’t obvious, and I looked a long time for it.
That I would be given a path but no signage whatsoever, or at least none I could read, made no sense.
I looked and looked.
For a while we’re lulled by being young. We think we have plenty of time. We can float. There will be plenty of time later to find and get on a path.
So I kept looking. I got pregnant. My partner and I quickly organized an avant-garde wedding in a field, then delivered a gorgeous baby boy, then made our marriage legal at a Florida courthouse. Within another year we suffered a divorce. I was 27.
Still I looked.
One Sunday afternoon a few years later I found myself hiking a remote mountain road in the Andes. I’d taken my young son to Colombia so I could have an adventure teaching English, but the situation was stressful—dangerous, actually—and I had sent him back to the U.S., to my parents. I had two weeks left on my contract.
I didn’t want to teach English in a foreign country; I didn’t even believe in obliterating the diversity of languages from the world.
I needed to settle down, onto my path.
I remember vividly one epiphanic moment hiking an Andean road. I was walking through a bowl of tall, blue-green mountains, the road dusty before and behind. I was missing Silas although I knew we’d be reunited in a fortnight. I passed huts constructed by hand of deep-orange clay, set within small plots of peas and corn. Tropical blooms of impatiens and geranium spilled from makeshift planters around swept doorways. Children watched me pass. Women appeared to say hello. Subsistence farmers and husbandmen paused hoeing their terraces to pass a few words, Buenas and Como esta? Theirs was a beautiful, difficult life.
What was I supposed to do with my own?
I love nature, I thought, and I love writing. Nature and writing. Writing and nature.
Put them together, a voice said.
I missed a step. Nature and writing. Writing about nature.
It’s easy—far too easy—to:
- roll along with other people’s agendas.
- decide to not take your life seriously.
- throw your hands up in defeat or despair or depression.
- stay small.
- opt for ease.
- not do the work.
- let someone else decide how your life is supposed to go.
- allow other people’s opinions of you to determine your course.
- get afraid of failure, of what other people think, of ostracism.
- give up.
It’s your choice. If you want to be a writer, you get to decide to be one. Or not.
I’m going to love you either way.