Shadows have nowhere to hide in the desert. It’s true.
Here’s how I know for sure.
My most recent quest to finally find “home” has taken a curious turn. I relocated to Palm Springs earlier this year, took a full-time job, yet after several weeks of “working” and mulling about town, a feeling from the pit of my belly emerged and could not be ignored.
Something did not feel “right.” I did not feel right. Or, I should be more clear: I did not feel comfortable or settled.
Was it the job? Was it the town? Was it my new home?
(Good God. Could it be just me?)
After spending nearly two years experiencing magic carpet rides (with occasional turbulence) in my attempts to finish writing about, and publish, my Polish family’s haunting World War II survival story, I had hoped that re-rentering the workforce and settling into a new arena would offer me some well-needed time to reboot and … thrive. Um … I was never good at math and, gosh darn it, I totally miscalculated the true impact of my gritty re-entry back into the “real world.” I still feel like a navel-gazing Goldilocks trapped on the second round of fairy tale chairs, porridge and beds.
Freak outs occurred. I wanted to know: “Hey … when can I be like that pushy blond, Goldi, and feel ‘just right?'”
Then again, I must refer back to the fairy tale. Was that chick devoured by the bears? (Be careful what you wish for …)
My discomfort persisted. I did what I had to do … which in this case, meant shoving hefty spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia into my mouth. One evening, I wiped a few tears off of my cheeks — oh, cry some time, it’s good for you! — and realized that everything leading up to my current Here and Now had been far from ordinary. In fact, it had been quite extraordinary … as if I had been blessed with and immeasurable amount of grace. I had been on a spiritual/mystical journey over the last few years … something akin to a vision quest. My gut feeling told me that I was in need of some time to assimilate and integrate it all.
“Oh Greg,” I heard myself tell myself. “You’re an artist. You’re sensitive. You’re rising sign is Scorpio. Did you really think that anything would feel ‘just right’ after spending 14 years at the helm of a Northern California publication only to be tossed out into the cosmos, and through the veils of time and space so that you could follow the breadcrumbs left by Polish ghosts who seemed so desperately in need to capture the true breadth of what your Polish family, and nearly 1 million other Poles, endured under Stalin’s wrath?”
(Real or imagined, that is how it felt.)
So … shift happens. After praying and meditating on it, I decided to put in my notice at the job. I realized that life is too short to endure something that simply does not feel like a good fit. It did not make much sense, really, considering the amount of money that was in my bank account. But … the Universe tends to work in paradoxes — what’s big is really small; what’s small is really big; what looks challenging is actually a blessing to move your forward and grow. Sometimes the things that defy reason — “leave your new job and trust that you will be OK! — are actually the most sensible thing to do.
However, those kind of leaps take grit. Had I lost my mind (again) by following my heart?
I realized something the other day while driving through Palm Springs: Shadows have nowhere to hide in the desert. (The sun and all …)
I’m actually referring to the “shadow sides” of oneself and being willing to see them and, perhaps, embrace them rather than ignore them entirely. So, I began asking myself: What is it I am here to learn? What is it that this suddenly temporary job is trying to teach me about myself and life? What shadow aspects of myself am I being asked to see more clearly?
The insights continue to arrive: Creative writing skills could use sharpening; I am not “all that” and I am “all that” — meaning, simply, humility can do wonders; I know a lot/I don’t know it all; I was good at what I did but what good am I doing not following my heart?
Other things are evident: Something new is attempting to emerge from within me. And that something new seems to have something to do with a deeper sense of confidence, trust, self-acceptance, enhanced commitment to the soul and (wait for it …) trusting and acting upon my gut feeling sooner rather than later.
It seems that our valiant attempts to live a more authentic life must be done with a willingness to appreciate and water not just the healthy aspects of ourselves, but to also look at the sides of ourselves that are in desperate need of attention. Just as they do on any other kind of lawn …
… the weeds have a way of always capturing our attention.
Onward. More soon …