When I was a kid, I loved to play the game of Life.
At the ripe old age of 8, it was so much fun to tool around a little board and acquire your education, get married, have kids (tiny pink or blue pegs that just drove around in your plastic convertible, never asking, "Are we there yet?"), change careers, make a little money, lose a little money, and then tally it all up at the end. Sometimes you'd win, other times you'd lose, but you could play again and again, choosing a different path or a different card the next time.
As a grown-up, I'm not convinced that we aren't still playing at the game of Life. The only problem for me is that I don't know if I'm winning, or losing, or if there will ever be a winner or loser. And I don't think I'll ever really know because when the game ends, I'll be... you know...dead.
Raf and I have had so many conversations about life and death this summer, trying to make sense or come to conclusions about either one. And this is what I'm thinking: maybe there's nothing after death. Which leaves me with the desire to only do what I want to do and be with the people I want to be with. Even the concept of the rat race -- striving to make money and leave a hefty inheritance for your ancestors or to achieve fame and success on a grand scale -- seems foreign now.
I have always had the desire to be a published author, to have my name written in reviews or to do book signings and speak about my inspiration for the characters on the page. With a bittersweetness, I am letting go of that desire. I'm not saying it won't happen and I'm not saying I won't keep writing and learning and working toward that goal some day, but I'm finding that I don't want to define myself by that goal anymore. There's a part in "Eat Pray Love" (I'm sorry to reference it... you know who you are, my dear one) where an Italian guy asks Liz Gilbert for one word to define herself. She says "writer," and he says, "That's what you do for a living, but it doesn't say who you are." And so I find myself going internally, asking that question over and over, Who are you? Like the caterpillar in "Alice in Wonderland," which I loved in the original storybook and again in the crazy Tim Burton film.
Who.... are.... YOU?
I've decided (for now, because you know we can always choose again... and again...) that I'd rather make sure that Raf is okay, that the girls are growing and learning well, that our house is a sanctuary, that I'm traveling and being inspired and creating art on whatever scale I can, rather than try so hard to become something. If I'm taking an honest look at my life up til now, it's been a surprising journey but one that shows a clear path that leads right to the tips of my toes right this minute. So I'll continue following that path, stepping onto each brick as it appears under my feet.
And the "me" that I am... well, that's who I'll be.