Falling asleep is not easy when you’ve got an intense need to express and create. My mind wanders into the depths of my imagination and creativity at all hours, but are more vibrant and pulsating in the early morning hours and late nights. I thought about writing this post in different ways, but decided I share a personal anecdote instead, because why not? Maybe you’ll find some resonance in it.
It was a humid morning and I had just finished splashing the water in my favorite violet polka dotted swimsuit. My grandpa or “lolo” in Tagalog, picked me up to take me to my grandma (my lola) to have me get ready for my first birthday celebration. Our house was buzzing with a cacophony of people setting up the tables, our maids laying out the food, and kids (invited and non-invited) hovering around the pile of gifts and birthday cake. I only remember how strange it all seemed to me–this big party with all these people and all these party things around me, all just to see me in a dress with no hair because my mom shaved my head the week before (which is why I’m wearing a party hat in that picture). I remember thinking, “I just want the scoops of ice cream from the neighborhood ice cream man vendor my lolo hired and to play with my (imaginary) friends.” As much as everything around me looked like fun, I just wanted to be in my “happy space”–and that usually was by myself in places that would evoke my curiosity and imagination. I bring this memory up because for as long as I could remember, I have always lived inwardly than most of my family, friends and peers, and because of it, I have always felt a little more disconnected with the “normal” world and the “normal” way of doing things.
I grew up in a very white community in the valley where the cool thing to do was go and play in the wash or play hide and seek at a trailer park. My english was terrible and I took ESL until the 6th grade. I was made fun of a lot because no one knew what a Filipino was so I was instantly classified as being Chinese. I was an alien, an outcast of some sort with tan skin and a strange uneven haircut who wore mismatched second hand clothes. I was a pretty good student, but my teachers would always say I was too quiet or non-responsive (haha!) to their instructions and questions that it led them to believe I was “troubled”. In reality, I found no solace or comfort in the structures they were placing on me. I wanted to live out my imagination and push people to think about what else there was besides what was given to them on paper. I made friends (eventually) with all sorts of people: the super-smart straight A kids, the mormon kids (because they were SO friendly), the unpopular crowd, the popular bitches and cute skater boys, the funny quirky kids, the new kids from Asia (because anyone with chinky eyes were just stereotyped for being from Asia) and my favorite, the open and imaginative kids that made a realm of their own. I never liked to hang out with just one group of people–it was just too boring that way. I liked all kinds of people and welcomed different ways of thought into my circles. I didn’t want to follow the crowd or even listen to what teachers suggested was good for me. I just did what I felt was right and didn’t care about being grouped into one standard model of a kid.
Life was too much of a color-in-the-lines canvas and all I wanted to do was color it with every color outside of the lines.
Too often we’re told at a very young age how we shouldn’t be too much of something. I was “too quiet” and that I needed to participate more and when I tried to, I was “too disruptive” because I didn’t follow the instructions. Too often we live our lives bombarded with all this noise telling us we’re “too much” because of something or “too little” because we didn’t try. For the most part, my living “inwardly” was part of my obsession with just being observant, understanding human behaviors, and trying to make sense of why people sent out strange messages about themselves and the way life should be lived. We spend so much of our life living in a bubble we don’t even know exists until something or someone along the way bursts it and shows us a world full of much more than we thought.
Right now though, there’s a sense of attachment and praise towards outwardly possessions and gratifications. We’re led to believe that we should follow a timeline of accomplishments: go to school, get a good job, buy a house, buy a car, get married, have some babies, raise the babies to become functional humans, and retire with a good pension fund. We’re led to believe that in between these accomplishments, we’re supposed to fill it with stuff so that we could show for our accomplishments. I never understood this, and I never will. While I respect those who want this kind of lifestyle, I want you to think about whether or not YOUR life fits with this timeline.
Sometimes the life we think we want is not the same as the life that wants to live through you.
I was very lucky to learn this early on. As much as I hated trying to follow the norm to get good grades so that my mom and grandparents were happy, I really just wanted ice cream, music, books, a notepad and markers, and to let my imagination run wild.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the life that you think you’ve been living, is probably a life that was molded and given to you to achieve and maintain.
Too often we’re told to do this so that we can be this and have this to be happy about all of this, but what is it all for? To make the ones who have molded your life for you happy? What about you? What about the life that was given to you as a kind of mystery to solve and explore–doesn’t that warrant a chance to manifest in you?
When I was a kid, I said I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up and then 2 minutes later I wanted to be the first asian to win an Oscar, and then 5 minutes later, I just wanted to be Jane Goodall and explore the world with awesome gorillas. The following day, I just wanted to be a club leader for love-struck writers, sharing our collection of CDs with each other and analyzing song lyrics so we could write them to our school crushes.
Everyday, your mind will change. Your heart will want something else, and that’s ok, just as long as you listen to it.
Listen to whatever life wants to be felt in you. I’ve lived quite a few lives at this point (I think I’m on my 5th life) and can tell you that following the mystery and exploring the depths of your own life trying to manifest itself into becoming is a wonderful journey. Sure you’ll get some scars and get made fun of along the way, but you just live. Choose to live your life the way it was given to you, as a gift. Gifts that are given should never be refashioned or molded into something else that it isn’t, and too many of us are asleep to this idea. While I love and value those people who make sure to take care of our life and prepare us with the right tools to live as decent human beings, you must love and value the very life that is aching to taste your creative passion and potential. It is aching to taste your wonder for the world and the deeply sensitive fondness for truth and beauty.
“When you understand that you are the vehicle in which your unique life wants to manifest in, encounters with love become ecstasy. Music and dancing become godlike. Heartache is a wide, somatic wound. Visual natural beauty is jewel-drenched, wild bliss.” – Victoria Erickson
And when you open your eyes tomorrow morning, you’ll finally feel that all it took was directing your passion and spreading your heart only across what clearly matters most: growing and nourishing the life that’s been waiting for you all this time. Listen inwardly as much as possible. If you don’t know how, find the people that lift and inspire your being in places where you thrive. Seek it. They are there if you come unapologetically as you are.
And the life that you’ve been told you should be living? Get off that road, it never was yours. Walk along the path that you want to create for yourself and let your heart steer the direction of your growth, stopping and taking as many detours as you’d like, as long as you come with a fervent belief that this life is all I have and that you must let it live through you.
You don’t need to choose mediocrity or the norm when fire exists. If you hear it early on, listen to it carefully. So what if you’re quiet? Or maybe you’re a trouble-maker. Naysayers will try to devalue and stunt your growth anyways.
But fire is passion and passion is aliveness, and for once in your life, allow your belief to undo all your disbeliefs so that your destiny can hold you in an ecstatic grasp, and yell, “I’ve been waiting for you!”
You are the designer of your life.
You are the artist, the musician, the writer, the dancer, and the scientist of your masterpiece, so make it the marvelous and captivating one that it’s waiting to be.