So you’re 18 and you’re trying to decide what to do with your life – where to go to college, whether to stay in Europe and keep working. Your family needs you a little too much, and right now you’re feeling really pulled between what you should do, what everyone expects you to do, and this voice that’s all your own, that’s screaming so deep inside you, you can barely hear it. I know what you’re going to do, what you’ll keep doing for a long road ahead, and I wish you wouldn’t. Instead, discover your solid ground by standing more independently of others’ needs, even though it means you might make mistakes.
One of these days you’re going to be living in Colorado. You’re going to be high up in the mountains with a bow, hunting elk. Imagine that – dressed in camouflage and covered in elk piss.
Actually, you’re going to do this a lot – take off by yourself, and that’s a good thing. But there’s going to be this one particular morning where an elk will be bedding down in the timber across a river. You and he are going to start bugling back and forth. You’re going to anticipate him approaching you from a certain direction. You’re going to be so sure of it, that there you’ll be standing on that 45-degree incline, aiming your bow through an opening in the brush toward just the right spot where you think he will emerge. You’ll think you’ve calculated everything perfectly, worked so hard for this one shot. And just as things get quiet for a moment, he’s going to come crashing down from behind you, charging at you like you’re the toughest bull he’s ever fought. You’re going to swing that bow around, completely caught off guard, and miss the biggest elk of your life.
What I’m saying here is that you’re going to spend a lot of your life trying to make the wrong things work. A lot of time is going to be wasted in doubt and confusion. That’s time you can never get back. Continue to get away by yourself so you can hear that voice that’s all your own. Allow yourself time to imagine life, as Thoreau says, and trust yourself to live that life you imagine. You have the compass within yourself, a piece of God, if you will. Choose light, live fully engaged, and others cannot help but to feel buoyed upward, including the beautiful sons with whom you will one day be blessed.
Joy and peace on the journey!
Your older and wiser self,
Diane Les Becquets, age 45
Assistant professor and director of creative writing
Assistant director, M.F.A., in fiction and nonfiction
Contact Diane Les Becquets at firstname.lastname@example.org.