Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shed a Tear of Complete Dumbfounded Glee for Me

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of questions. My family's minds and friends' minds have been stirring up questions. The following is a compilation of the common reactions and questions I have encountered in two weeks:

So what do you want to do now that you're not in LA?
Well, I'm trying to find work so I can save money to do a tour of the Catholic Workers around the country.

I mean what are you going to do about a career?
Yea... I really like the Catholic Worker mode. Intentional communities, service, simplicity: I'm drawn to that.

That doesn't give you any money! You know you can be of service to others without living in voluntary poverty or without health insurance.
I know.

When you get married and have kids, you're going to need some money.
(laughs) I am not thinking about marriage and children right now. That's not really in my immediate future. I'll deal with that when the time comes to take that option more seriously.

Okay... how are you going to travel?
Greyhound, probably.

...Yes. It's cheap.

Hm. Well, it's not the nicest way to travel.
Well, I'm pretty poor. So it's my only real option.

How are you feeling about all of this?
I'm very excited. I feel like I'm doing what I need to do, and this is a great time to explore. But I'm not sure where my life is going to take me or what this upcoming year is going to reveal to me. It's going to be a great ride.

Alright, the above scenario is not so accurate. Mainly because it doesn't show my extreme discomfort during the conversation. I hate to tell my family that this is what I'm hoping for myself. My time in Los Angeles was a journey for me, but also a journey for my family. They were dragged through watching me struggle with the intense emotional commitment I had with the guys and the community. They witnessed my loneliness in a big city. They read about my changing beliefs and values over the past two years. And I think my leaving LA was somewhat of a relief, but I'm not done. And to tell them that I want to continue with the Catholic Worker lifestyle for a while longer is like saying, "I know these two years were a bit of a roller coaster, but I need you to hang on for me. We're going to do this all over again."

Maybe the above is melodramatic, but I know that my family wants the best for me and the Catholic Worker isn't on the top of their list of things they'd choose for me. Maybe a teacher, social worker, mom, or even nurse (that was suggested to me by a family member this past week). They'd love for me to have a retirement plan, health insurance, a steady income, own a house someday (at least have enough money to rent), maybe even purchase a car or be able to go out every once in a while. My family wants me to have all these things because they love me and want me to have the comforts they know.

But the truth for me is that I have found happiness and comfort in the midst of the struggle of the Catholic Worker way. Part of the mindset I have now is that I can achieve and share my personal idea of success and unfiltered happiness without mainstream necessities. You could write it off as youthful abandon, crazy talk, fantasy. I certainly have wondered if my idealism has strangled all rationality out of my college-educated brain. Yet this doesn't take away the amazing transformation I underwent in the past two years and the incredible sense of purpose that drives me now.

After all this, I recognize I don't know much about life--which is why I am searching for enlightenment, a control freak, and shocked that I'm still unemployed after two weeks of job hunting. With my 24-year-old mind and spirit, I am deciding to follow my desired path of simplicity and service to learn more about life.

Upon reading this this statement, maybe you will roll your eyes, or shed a tear (of frustration? of sorrow? of complete dumbfounded glee?). And who knows, maybe I will get some answers along my journey. Maybe, even, I will reach my destiny.