We put so much pressure on ourselves to find our path — as if there's only one, as if one is right, as if there's one at all. Krishnamurti proposed that truth is a pathless land, and when I read this in a bathtub some years and miles ago I underlined it three times, not really knowing what he meant, and yet knowing it to be true. Truth is complex and contradictory, a wilderness that includes yet evades us. We can explore and uncover it, as we explore and uncover ourselves, but if there's a clear path it's probably because someone else put it there. That doesn't make it less true; it also doesn't make it truth.
Sometimes it’s helpful to follow a well-worn path. Mama always said, the beaten path is beaten for a reason. If we're certain of where we want to go, a clear path is faster and more comfortable than carving our own.But what if we’re uncertain? How do we know where we want to go when we don't know where we are? How do we know where we are until we’ve wandered a way? What if we want to explore in a different direction? What if we enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing, even if it feels frightening? We’re taught we need a path because everything outside the path could potentially cause harm, from the rattlesnakes to the other humans to the land itself. Is the path not also the land? Are we not also the land? Are we really going to assume we know the way?For me, the danger in following a path isn’t the path itself but that it exists between here and an imagined future point. Rarely do I experience the no-path of here, which is why I fell in love with music. Music helps me be present. Of course, I tried (and still catch myself trying) to make music my path, instead of simply making music. Expectations, no matter how sweet, lead to disappointment. Unless we expect the worst. Either way, there's suffering where there might have been... well, being.
(To be clear, I stayed on the path to take these photos because I respect the poppies. Don't they look like they could talk? Or chirp? What do you think they are saying?)
While it’s fun to plan a trip — especially if it’s a tour — I've found that true fulfillment lies not in the paths we take but in the ones that emerge within that barely perceptible space between future and past that is us. Each wavering, confusing, frustrating, inspiring, challenging, gratifying, humbling step that feels pathless is our truth. How do we know this? Why else would we keep going?
A year ago I left what had become a well-trodden path to try something different. It hasn’t been easy or comfortable, but I don’t think ease and comfort are the point. We’re here to explore and to experience, and sometimes that hurts. Sometimes we have to be beside ourselves to know where we are, to know what is true. This, too, changes! We, too, are changing! Sometimes we have to get on the path in order to abandon it. We have to abandon it in order to be here, the one place we are now.
After all, it's pretty great to be here, isn't it? Even if we're tired and a little sore? I'm glad you're here. Thank you for joining me in my rambling.
I'm about to venture deeper and farther into the wilderness... of Chicago? Yes, sometime in the near future (trying not to get too ahead of myself, but an apartment needs to manifest at some point) I'm going to dig into words and sounds and images at the School of the Art Institute. I don't know what's ahead, but right now feels pretty great. Thank you to the wonderful patrons who've supported me through the past year of tortuous (if not torturous) applications. If you’d like to join us on our M.F.A. adventure you can subscribe here!
Happy Earth Day Every Day,