"You’re not a kid anymore. You have the right to choose your own life. You can start again. If you want a cat, all you have to do is choose a life in which you can have a cat. It’s simple. It’s your right."
— Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
That is the sound that reverberated around my head when I read this piece of wisdom. (I'm not sure why my brain chose to make this particular sound. Perhaps because it is the sound my imagination decided would indicate a "light-bulb moment"? Nevertheless...)
Because Haruki is right. It's simple. We have the right to choose our own lives. They are ours, after all.
In that vein, this year I am taking a year off, from my (official) studies. To write. To dream. To work. To save. To travel. Not to find myself. But just to be me.
A few days ago, I discovered that I am a scanner. "A scanner", self-help author Barbara Sher explained in an interview with Sarah Wilson, "is genetically wired to be fanatically interested in multiple things at once". As Sarah relays in her Sunday Life column:
“You love everything, right!” Well, yes. “But you get bored and go off on tangents! And you think it’s bad that you keep quitting things and moving on!” Yes, yes, I do! “Don’t! Have some fun with it instead!”
Another ping. That's me! Sarah says that, at 75, Barbara lives and breathes scanner theory: she has written seven bestselling books, travels year-round on the speakers circuit, reads geography texts and spends spring in Turkey teaching e-commerce to village weavers. Sounds lovely, right?
Oh, but how to mitigate my uncontrollable instinct to scan through life with the desire for exceptionalness? (It's a word, promise.) You see, for all her scanning, Barbara is exceptional at what she does. So is self-claimed scanner Sarah. So is everybody I really admire. The afore-mentioned writer Haruki Murakami. Comedian Tim Minchin. Musician Paolo Nutini. Poet Rumi. Their genius in one area, not their multi-talented facilities, is what makes them so exceptional; but perhaps scanning contributes to their brilliance.
So I have decided that when it comes to choosing my own life, I choose to embrace scanning. As of now, I am a writer, blogger, makeup artist, aspiring novelist, avid reader, lover, daughter, sister, friend, terrible cook. And in the future, I want to learn Italian, perfect my French, travel the world, relearn the piano and cello; be a novelist, journalist, poet, screenwriter, documentary-maker, artist, teacher, wife, mother, pet-owner. Learn as much as I can, about everything. Feel my way through life, acting on instinct: what feels right, deep down in my heart.
Oh yes, but I also have to choose my focus. While I want to have many feathers in my hat, so to speak, in order to be exceptional - to be valuable, to make a difference, to make a mark - one of those feathers needs to be taller, stronger and more brightly coloured than the others. At any one time. It's not that I have to commit to preening that feather forever. I am allowed to change my mind, make another choice further down the track. But, for now, I need to commit.
The key, I think, is finding my niche, and excelling at whatever that is. I have to put my mind to something I love and follow through. Fill my mind with knowledge, scope out the competition. Learn techniques. Build my craft. Be productive. Be innovative. Burst through expectations. All the while, nourishing my soul by satiating my curious desire for scanning whatever lies outside that niche. Exploring the ends of the earth, experiencing the full scope of existence.
So that is the life that I choose for myself. How about you?
“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
— Albert Einstein
This photo is from http://julia.blogg.se.