Last night was good but strange. I went to dinner with my host and two of his friends, a lovely couple taking a break from traveling the world to visit friends and family before heading out one more time. They were lovely people and I hope I get to know them better, but I felt very quiet and shy, and all I wanted to do was listen and observe. The introvert in me was in full bloom, and I felt strangely out of place, almost an intruder even though the three of them seemed quite happy to welcome me.
I felt awkward and almost dispassionate when Amy asked me why I'm in Los Angeles. I stammered out a crude explanation about the directive I received last fall to "go to L.A.," my desire to make connections and look for investors for the book project, and the fact that I was also looking for work that will sustain me in the meantime, but it all felt flat. What I really wanted to say was, "I have no freaking idea why I'm here!"
Why am I here anyway? Because a loud, booming voice from the sky told me to come here? Yes! Is it the same loud, booming voice I heard three years ago this month when I was told to write this book that's taking forever to complete? Yes!
So I listen and follow directions like the good girl that I am, and now I'm sitting in someone's (a very kind and generous someone, I might add) back patio, overlooking Topanga Canyon, watching the sun make its way over the crest of the mountain, feeling alone and scared, wondering why in the hell I'm here. "My GOD, what have I done?!?"
I guess the single simplest explanation is I've taken a leap - a giant, free-falling leap of faith. But doing it alone at 47 feels a lot different than doing it at in my 30's with a husband and a plan. It feels way scarier, even than taking a trip around the world with company, way more risky, and way lonelier.
Truth be told, if I were to give my Inner Critic full reign, it would say, "What the hell are you thinking?!? I mean really! You're up to your eyeballs in debt, have no idea how you're going to pay the bills due next week, and you're sitting here writing about it. You should be out there pounding the pavement. You should be looking for work right now. You should get up off your ass and do something! Instead you're sitting on your ass, sipping tea and writing about it." That's what my Inner Critic says.
And yet, when I say ever so kindly, "Thank you for sharing. Now please be quiet," when I take a deep breath and feel the depth of my loneliness as well as the rightness of where I am and the depth of conviction that this is the right place for me to be and I'm doing exactly what I need to do, I remember that listening to that big, booming voice (no, not the Inner Critic) has gotten me this far with great success. I've created a really amazing life for myself. Despite not yet having all the material things or financial freedom I desire, I have a beautiful home in the mountains I can go back to any time I wish, I have more amazing friends than I could have ever imagined, two incredible children who are creating amazing lives for themselves, and so much more. I remember that I've known for a year that I needed to come here, even if it meant feeling completely alone.
So, I take a deep breath and a good look around at the beauty of this scene, listen to the birds arguing, the cars driving by down below, hitch up my britches and exhale... I remember. I am right where I need to be and everything - everything - is okay. Even the rapid beating of my heart. Even the feeling like I'm either about to explode or pack up the car and head home as fast as possible like this was all just a big mistake. Even the feeling that this place is just too big, too cynical and too hard for an open-hearted, thin-skinned country girl like me and I have no idea how to maintain my open heart and greet everyone I meet from that place, like I seem to do so easily at home. Even that
I just have to breathe and be - in this moment, and this one, and this one. That's all I have to do to keep that monster in my head at bay.
After I do that for a bit, what's next? Post this blog, make some calls, get on craigslist and look for some jobs, then get in my car, head out of this protective canyon and into the big, wide valley of possibility. As my son wrote in the very sweet note he left on my passenger seat, "...give 'em hell. LA won't know what hit 'em.