How do you keep yourself grounded when you’re being torn apart from all directions by gusts of wind? When the wind starts to blow from one direction, forcing you to lean into it, work with it, and move on—just to suddenly change directions and push you from behind flat on your face. How do you build up the strength to fly when the air patterns are chaos, when the wind is howling and fierce, and you’re afraid to hit the ground?
I seem to have an attraction for windy places. My undergrad years were spent on the plains of Moorhead MN (read: Fargo, ND) where the extreme temperatures were matched only by the even more extreme wind. Grad school in Wyoming means that not much has changed, although it is a bit warmer here. I reach out to these places as places of personal growth and professional development. Why can’t I live somewhere temperate, normalized, and predictable?
I’ve always lived my life according to some sort of “plan,” tying my dreams and ambitions down to a metaphorical rock, holding on to them for dear life. It’s as if I was afraid that the wind from outside would tear apart my inner ambitions. As if letting myself go beyond the self-imposed confines of my mind would blow away all that I am, leaving a lifeless shell in the place of me. Whether I was tied down to a relationship, invested in my studies, or was simply narrow-minded in my scope and ambition, I’ve spent the vast majority of my life with blinders on.
But now, as a grad student studying music performance, I’m realizing that you can’t live life this way. One does not simply walk through life on the golden road of a perfect life plan and stick with it for the entirety of the journey. Rather, perhaps it is I who cannot simply do this. Every time I set a plan something happens that makes me want to change it. Life is open-ended for all of us; we walk through life creating our own narrative. That’s all that needs to be said about it. If you tell yourself that you are a good person, a dedicated student, a passionate lover, and a reliable friend, you will act the part and it will eventually be so. If you’ve ever read the books of Patrick Rothfuss then you know what I’m talking about, Kvothe went through life telling everyone around him he was a hero and acting the part. Eventually the act becomes the reality and what had earlier began as a rumor is now a truth.
It is all a matter of how we handle this open-endedness. Do we become an agoraphobic in terms of our lives? Do we fear the vast amount of possibilities that are constantly available; shunning them all in favor of the restricted life path we have set for ourselves?
I was a closet agoraphobic. I limited my perspective on life to only include music, opening it slightly to include philosophy and then slamming that door shut just as quickly. I decided upon grad school, moving away with my boyfriend and planning out the next five years of my life in advance. But then I arrived here, and somewhere along the line I let the wind into my heart and it has blown me away.
I made the leap away from the comfortable and broke up with my boyfriend. Leaving solitude behind I started seeking adventures in new places alone and with new friends, I’ve met more awesome people and had more fun life experiences in the last few months then I had had in the past few years. And this is no ones fault but my own. I do not blame the men I loved for limiting my life perspective, I do not blame the professors that encouraged me one way or another, and I do not blame my family or friends, it was merely myself that decided to live that way, and I carry the blame. I was the one afraid to go somewhere new alone, I was the one that decided early on to throw myself head first into a career path with little to no hesitation and thought that it might now be right for me. I was the one who got myself to where I am today and I’m pretty damn glad that I was that person, because I am happy where I am.
I know now that one cannot go through life in the negative, one cannot say "no" to everything. I'm old enough to know the consequences, whether financially, educationally, or whatever, but I'm also young enough not to say "no" anymore. If I have the opportunity to feed my soul with something new I will gladly do so, whether that means more time in new places playing pool with friends and soon-to-be-friends, or whether it means travelling half-way across the continent to immerse myself in music, I will do it gladly.
The wind is unpredictable and that’s just something you have to deal with. Trusting that your wings are strong and your eyes are good, you just need to fly away. Sometimes you will crash and burn, but you will keep flying because flying is in your heart, it is a part of you. Every time you cross that hill, fly through that valley, and soar into the sky, your heart lifts and you are happy. Fearing the next crash, worrying about yesterdays weather, and avoiding flight for the safety of the ground is not the way to live, it is not who you are. You are strong, you are unique, and you will make it—no matter how the wind tries to stop you and hold you back.