wider than our views of it

There have been many times in my life that I wished for clarity, for some kind of understanding and times I wished for reassurance and peace with choices I was making. Many of these feelings have come at night, perhaps I allow the quiet then and am more open to listening with my heart. I have been trying to write about this for some time, now and I finally decided to break these thoughts into multiple posts.

There was a night in Paris when it was unseasonably warm so I had the tiny balcony doors open and was sitting in a chair looking out at the people walking on the busy streets, some to dinner, others to their homes after work; some tourists probably looking for the Musee d'Orsay had taken a wrong turn. I had been away from home (Alabama) for some time and was feeling sad and lonely. The clarity I thought I would find in unfamiliar space was not telling me what I wanted to hear. I had decided to return home though I hadn't told anyone I was planning to leave. It was something I was turning over in my mind, considering what leaving this place, the place I thought I would love but that ended up showing me all the things that were not working in my life, would mean. As I looked out on the street that night, a feeling came over me and I just knew that going home and ending the relationship I was in were decisions I needed to make. I bought a plane ticket the next week, but the relationship lingered for about a month in a tumultuous and terrible form before it finally ended a week before my 23rd birthday.

3 years later
A few nights before I left for Illinois, in the middle of a summer of a storms, I laid in the driveway, soaked in rain and joked about making angels. I was about to leave once again and for an extended period of time the only place I'd ever called home. I was leaving the place I'd lived the longest and finally, finally felt rooted and I didn't know exactly what I was heading toward but it just felt like something I had to do. I could have chosen any of the 3 grad schools where I was accepted and even as I look back, I'm not sure exactly why I chose one over the other; though I could give a list of explanations and reasons, it was a feeling that led me to lay in the driveway that night and let the rain wash over me. I knew somehow that though I was sad and anxious about saying goodbye, about moving on and starting new, that doing so was simply the only thing I could do.

I've been thinking a lot about choices we make, about lives we imagine for ourselves and why one moment seems more right than others. I was re-watching Season 5 of Supernatural, while this season was on a brief hiatus and it's all about fate, free will and destiny, raising questions about how much power we have over our lives. In some ways, it's nice to think that everything will work out, that our choices will eventually lead us to where we're supposed to be. (Though what "supposed to be" means and who's deciding these things is still a bit of a mystery within my belief system). On the other hand, I'm quite fond of the idea that my choices matter.

I certainly don't believe we can do nothing and have our lives iron themselves out. I also believe that things happen we cannot foresee, nor can we understand how events will alter our lives completely. I am re-reading Thoreau's Walden and there is a fantastic line in his conclusion where he writes, "The universe is wider than our views of it." And maybe that's it, where faith comes in. We make decisions; we dream; we set goals and try to accomplish them and all that we can't see about where that work will take us is what we have to believe in.