"The things we really want to do are usually the ones that scare us the most."
--Po Bronson, What Should I Do With My Life?
When I started The Urban Hermitage Project last fall, I was fulfilling a dream...building my own little place, implementing sustainable design, attempting to live as a hermit-writer, downsizing and simplifying everything about my life, evangelizing. It had all the good makings of a quarter-life crisis. I bit off a lot...and had some trouble chewing. More than anything, my time spent on the hermitage project was a period of growth, of stepping outside my comfort zone, and simply trying something on for size, something new, so as to stave off any regrets later in life of not having at least tried to live a more....deliberate life.
One thing I don't think I shared during the course of that project was the fact that after I had moved everything out of my apartment and into the bus on the last day of my lease, I drove down the street with all my posessions and parked. I had no where to go. Everything was packed in such a rush I had no room to move around inside. I cleared a place in the middle of the floor to sit down and felt completely broken, like I had gambled something and lost, big time. I don't know what it was I was betting with...my dignity, my security, the simple comforts of running water and plumbing and a street address. But I know I had stepped out of one thing and into another. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go, or how to start this life, how to make it work. I felt trapped. It started to rain, and I started to cry.
Looking back, I still don't know what prompted me to undertake such a project, to radically alter my life...and then radically alter it back to the way it was; moving back to the same neighborhood, back to the same company and work. I don't think I was the same person after that experience, though. For me, it represented the shaking off of clothes that no longer fit. It was the moving into a new stage, through a very eccentric and memorable rite of passage that was completely my own. Months later, Debbie would google my name before we started dating and find this project online and be totally fascinated by my eccentricities. If for some reason this was the only reason to have undertaken the project, to have brought us together, it would have been worth it.
Now I am waiting to hear about a job teaching religion and working in campus ministry at St. Joe's Prep, and I am scared...scared they will say no, and scared they will say yes. I know I would be great for the job, and feel called to it. I went through my interviews, and felt I did everything I could to present myself as the best candidate. It is now out of my hands. I'm afraid of not being able to do the job. I'm afraid of being great at the job. I'm afraid of not getting it and being stuck where I am now. The thing we really want to do is usually the one that scares us the most. What we are really called to asks the most of us. Dreaming and planning your future is easy...living it when it is delivered is another matter altogether.