“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” -Wendell Berry
This quote came to me at the right time of my life through a book I’m reading called “Small Victories” by Anne Lamott. Life is feeling strange, not that thats new. Its not because of my own inability to recognize my surroundings, or a lack of understanding of the world. Its not because I don’t know myself or who I am.
Its because I don’t know how to recognize myself in the context of my surroundings.
Ive determined that this is what it means to be lost. And I am writing about it now.
A girl is born on a different world, facing a unique societal structure that is different, but not so different, from our own. Everyone born in this world has a one track existence that is determined by certain biological characteristics. In this way, each individual serves the greater good of the whole. They operate quite happily, and quite smoothly in this way and have done so for thousands of years. But like what happens to us, genetic mutations occur, and Xenia is one of the people born with an abnormality that makes her purpose unclear.
And so this girl goes about her life realizing that to be lost is not necessarily the inability to recognize your surroundings. Its to not know what it means to be you, or how to be you, when your environment is not giving you any clues, and seems to always go against the grain of your own instincts.
My particular problem is that I can’t do anything unless its genuine, but is that really a problem? Yes. Let me tell you why.
I refuse to listen to what I should want and what my interests should be. I don’t think people realize just how heavily their interests are influenced by the people they are around. Just living here can make you into something you’re not as the entire world is constantly trying to convince you that you need what they’re selling.
You need this education, with this means of transportation and this technology, these clothes, this appearance, this lifestyle, these things. All day every day since you were born, you are bombarded and become a product of the corporate world, and there is not much that can be done about it. All that can be done is to go with the flow, and do the best you can with what you have (which is a lot, I am not being a glass half empty kind of person, I am merely pointing out what goes unnoticed most of the time).
Living in a world like this as a person that does not naturally go with the flow of his or her surroundings creates a sense of this lost feeling I’m talking about. There is constant questioning of how any part of the self can exist here successfully, and what parts of the self are the right ones to apply.
Making connections with others becomes increasingly difficult, as you drift away from the crowds that want and enjoy things that just aren’t fulfilling to you. There is a constant feeling that you’re not sure if you’re doing the right thing, and constant worry about making it look like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Where you are going and where you want to go becomes your identity by the time you get to your junior year of high school, and into college. It is like the world I created in my story, where your purpose is defined by the tasks you perform.
I don’t know how to end this thought, as this is an early point in my journey and haven’t had the time to digest these feelings. I suppose the best way to conclude this is with the quote I started with. I don’t know what I’m doing, but perhaps thats just a necessary part of the initiation.