Learning to live

Sometimes it’s better not to think too much.

I am the worst kind of planner — the kind who thinks it’s actually possible to have a perfect plan, the kind who feels a sense of failure when the plan doesn’t work, thinking if I could only plan a bit better, I would always be in control of everything and everyone life would always be comfortable and pain-free.

If I had thought about all of the things that could go wrong on my adventure in the city, I wouldn’t have met the guy from East Africa who was waiting for bus #36 or noticed that Psychadeli Cafe was selling freshly made masala dosas for $6 (by the way, these cost like 50 cents in India and my mouth is watering just thinking about them). I also wouldn’t have stood at the wrong bus stop for 30 minutes wondering why my bus never showed and remembering how to assess my safety and considered the challenges homeless people must face.

I hate to be overly sentimental or use too many adjectives, but it was the kind of day Seattleites (yes, that’s what they call themselves) say helps them survive the winter rain. The sun made the water sparkle. Mt. Rainier was hovering in the sky like an apparition, as bright as I’d seen it. It was the kind of day and the kind of beauty that remind you God is infinitely greater than you can ever hope to be or prove the existence of a Creator even if you don’t want to believe.

When I lived in India, Harry and I had to depend on each other for so many things that most modern American women would  laugh at. I was never alone there. It was difficult impossible to find quiet spaces. I don’t regret the sweetness of the loyalty and trust we now share, but I am still unraveling all of the lingering scars.

One of those is traveling alone. In a car. In a plane. On a ferry. On foot. At night. Many things “weren’t safe for a woman to do alone,” and I stopped knowing how to do them. And, didn’t really let myself think about whether I wanted to or not.

Luckily, I didn’t have time to think about much of anything. In one moment, I was in my friend’s car, driving toward the vehicle line for the ferry, enjoying her company. The plan was to go to a music festival together on an island just across the Sound from downtown Seattle. City traffic and construction were not part of my plan.

Ten minutes later, I had walked a couple of blocks to the ferry ticket booth, purchased a ticket and found myself on the deck looking out over the water in a throng of mostly tourists. (And, even though I’ve lived here for only five months, I could totally pick them out with their dazed looks cameras!)

On the ferry, I felt the wind pulling us toward the island (and messing up my hair). Two women asked me to take their photo with the Space Needle in the background.

After working from home, alone and inside — all week — it was just the change of pace my soul needed. I was disappointed that the traffic had forced my friend to go home, but decided to submit to the day God was giving me and soak up all of the goodness I could get my mind around.

The only choice I regret making was opting out of sunscreen. Yep. You can still get sunburned when the wind is blowing and the temperature maxes out at 80 degrees.

My car was parked too far to walk to and I couldn’t remember a time when I’d successfully navigated a bus line, but I decided I’d think about that later.

I’m mostly an introvert. I don’t mind being alone — even in a crowd of strangers. But being alone and taking a pause from the stress and pressure of daily work and relationships to contemplate God’s goodness to me: Those are two very different things. I’m not good at removing myself from the chaos — or, the pain — to process what God is teaching me, to understand how I can be more like Jesus, even to pray.

So, a day of unexpected adventure on my own reminded me that my story isn’t finished. It’s still being written. I can rest in the truth of God’s faithfulness that I’ve known and the promise of future grace. That part is set. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, I have hope.

And that means I get to go on adventures every now and then.


6 Replies to “Learning to live”

  1. Beautiful to read the other end of our morning together. I am so glad this gave you what you needed. Solitude is in short supply in our lives– “solitude” being different from “being alone”. In my lately harried state, I’m realizing what is missing is just that– solitude. I think ferries and islands are good for creating that space. Thank you for sharing this journey! Proud of you for finding your way– in all ways.

  2. Thanks for sharing your adventure Andrea! You are an inspiration to me – to push forward – to allow space to process and to enjoy solitude in a new environment! I too am proud of you!

  3. Find great comfort is these words “my story isn’t finished”. That leaves room for a lot more adventure. Learning to sink in to this in Calcutta. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. As always, it speaks to my heart.

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