On Staying…

by Jerri

Paper Crane

“I’m still discovering, right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It was probably the heat, or the relentless reality that I was almost 6 months past the age of 25 and my life showed so sign of progressing beyond that of physically aging. Whatever it was, I was contemplating ditching the Bay Area and moving down to LA to study writing of some form or another. I wanted something to get me out of the 9-5 job that I had gotten into. I wanted to leave and fulfill the need of adventure and act of physically moving that often marks the next stage in life as a young adult. No coming of age story has the young protagonist leaving home only to retreat and home back as a disastrous failure, that is, unless you happen to be the prodigal son in one of Jesus’ parables.

Then I realized, I didn’t actually want to leave.  I decided to stay.

A month after, I quit my job, the first job that I had gotten out of college. In retrospect, it was what I wanted to do all along, only I was too chicken to do it without something to fall back on. I remembered that moment when I realized that I wasn’t going to go anywhere, and I needed to leap. Maybe it was foolish looking back at it now, but in between coming back to the Bay Area in desperation and being willing to take any job followed by a family health crisis almost two years ago, I needed to know that I was able to make an active decision instead of a passive one for once in my post-grad life.

I’m trying to make sense of what it means to be living here, as in, to live here fully and experience both the joys and sorrows around me. After trying to leave this area over and over again in various ways, and utterly failing every time with an exception to a change in decision, I’m slowly realizing that I cannot continue on living in a blur of busyness while in pursuit of some grand dream or scheme that I barely even understand myself.

I’ve been learning to share in the happiness of upcoming births, and I’m learning to mourn the loss of someone I barely knew who died of cancer earlier this week. The best writers, I once said, are the ones who are able to articulate the realities of life and speak to their readers in a transformative way. The best writers observe through their experiences by living through them fully in all its rigorous disappointment, anguish and joy, because only then can you speak truthfully, even in fiction. So I’m learning, I think, to share in that grief, joy and suffering, and to experience it in all its intensity… I’m learning to have faith.

So this is a new season.