Who’s way?

“What way is this?…What dark is this?

“Get out of your own way” repeated itself in my head yesterday. A mantra.

But that means I have to know what my way is.

Thirty-three years ago this month, I fled from college. Dropped out, they would say, and so I used to say. I had really been checked out for weeks, stopped attending classes. And I had been muddling for years.

Was I getting in my way all those months I was a poor student? Was I getting in my way when I stopped going to my classes? Was I getting in my way when I left?

Or was I on my way? Was the act of leaving, and all the messy prelude to it, simply me groping, seeking the escape hatch that would set me free, point me in the direction I should have been traveling all along?

“All the way to heaven is heaven,” St. Catherine of Siena once wrote.

Can that be true? Can even my mistakes, my transgressions, the harm I’ve visited on others, simply be my way to heaven? I might be able to convince myself it were so if I believed in that supernatural concept of heaven anymore.

But without the comforts of that usefully, beautifully, unsatisfactorily vague utopia, I am left with this: To try coming to terms with not knowing where my way leads. To settling on the practice of certain acts (meditating, running, writing, caring) that seem to ground me and keep (generally) the dismay at bay. I’m left, in short, with uncertainty, and with what devices I can find to forgive myself and the universe for our shared lack of clarity.

So maybe that’s my way. Maybe, in the end, that’s the only way any of us has.


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