“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
There is a quote that I read only once and I can’t remember who said it or exactly how it was said, but here’s the gist: If you are facing in the right direction, all you have to do is start walking.
The summer I graduated from college, I was sitting on the beach with my boyfriend, who had also just graduated. He asked me a question that will forever sit in my mind. I had never asked myself or anyone else that question before. He asked me what my Five Year Plan was. When I was 21 years old, five years down the road seemed like an eternity and I really had no concern at all for it. But I pondered the question and came up with an answer. It was simple and generic, and thinking back, it really wasn’t even true.
Over the next two years, I asked myself that question lots of times. I never did come up with a true, honest answer. I was very responsible and took any job or relationship I had very seriously, but I still didn’t know where I wanted to go. It was when life decided to throw me an enormous curve ball that I understood what I had wanted. I told myself that I wanted to own my own dance studio, that I wanted to get my masters in dance, that I wanted to own my own house and decorate it beautifully, that I wanted to do fun things with good friends and see as much of the world as I could. But when I lost the most important thing to me, I realized that all I really wanted over the next 5 to 85 years was to be able to give someone all the love that lived inside of me.
The worst feeling in the entire world that I have felt so far is having love inside of me that no longer has a place to land.
My boyfriend from that summer didn’t live five more years, but if he had, I know he would have achieved everything he had in his sights. He was just that way. It felt strange that I was the one left here…the one with no direction or conviction about my future. The one who was just wandering around this world trying to figure out what I could contribute and how. He knew without a doubt which direction he was facing and he was walking it without fear.
I’ve spent the last 16 years making lots of U turns and detours. The mistakes I’ve made are numerous and excruciating to think about sometimes. I can’t go back and change any of it. Now all I can do is face the right direction. I believe I’m standing at the starting line of a wonderful road. I’m still not clear on all of the specifics, but I do know that I can take my time and try to be gentle and loving to others and myself along the way. Every step I take in the right direction leads me to the places where I can give my love in good and positive ways to people who will accept it kindly.