One morning when I was 20 years old, I stood on a dock at the Southern tip of Spain waiting for the ferry to North Africa.
My college roommate Marcia stood next to me and was by far the braver. Had she wavered even slightly I would have talked us out of getting on that boat. We were juniors in college in Southern California, abroad for a year, and we’d never been on the African continent or to a Muslim country. Although we’d hitchhiked around Ireland and slept in a tiny, unlocked customs shack on the Portuguese border, Morocco felt way outside our headlight beams, in that dark periphery where all manner of unknown danger lurks.
With reasons not to go blooming like algae in my mind, I walked on that ferry.
Here are three memories from Tetouan, Morocco in 1992.
- Just outside the Medina, the white-walled, old city, packed with spice merchants and carpet sellers, women were taking their kids to school and grocery shopping. I sat on the steps, studying their abayas, and headscarves. I smiled when I got caught staring. I usually got smiles back.
- It was hot and dry and mint grows everywhere. If you order a glass of iced tea, they stuff it with mint leaves and pour the tea over them – basically a mint julep, minus the Bourbon.
- Many of the buildings have rooftops where you can gaze over the bustle of the city and the orange orchards that surround it. The ivory buildings pop against the blue sky and The Rif mountains shimmer green and gray in the distance.
Of the year I spent in Europe, Morocco was my favorite adventure because I got smarter and braver. Standing on that rooftop thinking about writing books one day, I vowed I wouldn’t allow the dark peripheries threaten my horizon again.
But then I grew up and did it.
For the last eight years, I’ve worked in Corporate America, doing a job that was lucrative and age appropriate, but one that was no more suited to me than size five shoes. Last Thursday, I quit.
I want exuberance, meaning and purpose, but I followed luxury and security. If your headlights were made in America, you may have done the same. The path is bright and well-marked, lots of folks are on it and your parents won’t regret sending you to private school if you choose it.
But what if you didn’t choose that path? What if you wound up there by default and you’re so stifled you’re about to jump out of your skin? How do you get off it? And what do you do instead?
Those questions have crashed about in my mental rock tumbler for so long they’re now just shiny pink agates. I’m rubbing them like talismans, quizzing smart people who’ve bushwhacked their trails and come into new territory, muscular, scarred and grinning. I’m doing the same for the 20-year-old girl on the roof in North Africa, she just happens to be 40 now.
This blog is the lab and I want you to come along.
Are you drowning in debt? Waking with dread? Bored out of your mind but terrified of the dark outside your headlights. Want to make your life matter more than it currently does?
Me too. Let’s do it together.
8 thoughts on “How to Make Your Life Matter – A Study.”
I too quit my job…12-31-12…with these same feelings. I yearn for purpose and relevance. Among those things that excite me are writing…and the elderly, particularly those in memory care. I haven’t found the path to get me there while earning an income, but with faith I continue my quest.
I wonder if we found the meaning, if the income wouldn’t come.
I wonder that too, rather hopeful…and faithful!
A wonderful piece Erin. You write in living color, better than NBC:) There’s a book called “Do What You Love and the Money Will Come” or something like that. But I wonder if when the money comes in, the love goes out. God said we cannot love Him and money. And God is love. *Thank you* for talking with us from the heart Erin. (But we have to have money to live(: Money shortage hurts.
I know that money thing…I’m just trying to learn to be content like Paul said, whether I have a lot or a little – that is great gain. To not let it control everything, some things it will, but you know…balance. Joy.
so now I’m wondering if I sound insensitive. Didn’t mean to(:
My purpose…to live in such a way that my heart will be shattered by that which breaks the heart of God. (a modification of Bob Pierce’s vision) a voice for the silent, an arm for the weary and a protector for the abandoned. I can’t live like lot’s wife – always looking back at what I might have had and loosing everything in the process …I have to keep looking forward…running toward the goal… taking with me that which is precious and not trying to bring with me into the future all of the childlike ways I put aside. I am living the life I was made for – as painful as it is some days, as tiring, as terrifying, there is no question that I am exactly where I am supposed to be..and it is good.
You have a brave and beautiful heart Dot. I wish we could see your contributions to the Kingdom of Heaven – can you imagine what you have already built?