We, new friends, bonded by the intimacy that long trips to faraway places brings, stood in the relatively short TSA lines in Houston to catch our connecting flights, when she received a text message.
You need to grow-up. This is the real world and people can’t just take international trips every time they want to. Blah. Hate. Blah, Blah. Hate.
She, almost 8 years my junior, spoke words of anger, but her eyes showed hurt; and I felt empathy. There in the TSA line, jet-lagged, hung-over, thick-breathed, I tried to comfort her by explaining my latest life-revelation: living your truth is the boldest decision you will ever make in your life; and there will be many along the way who will attempt to hinder you (primarily because they weren’t bold enough to do the same thing).
It was on another one of these international trips that I had part of this revelation. I arrived to Kenya, with thoughts and questions, heavier than my luggage. I had the urge to do and be so many things different than society and my upbringing were telling me to be. Superficially, I had the “American Dream”: a house, a successful husband who loved me, 2 well-adjusted kids, a business, member of the prestigious social organizations, and so on. Notwithstanding, I wasn’t satisfied; and then I would become more dissatisfied with myself because I felt that I was being ungrateful for not being thankful for having the things that so many seemed to relish in. My mind felt like it was lost on a crowded freeway, going in circles with horns honking at me, the radio screaming at me and the GPS yelling at me to go one way while something instinctual was telling me to go another.
Then, I landed in the middle of the Masai Mara, and all became small and silent. Surrounded by animals 100 times my size and/or abilities made me realize the insignificance of my problems and of me (I swear in the hippos’ bellows, as they rolled around in the pond or lounged on stone’s at the water’s edge, I heard them say “It ain’t that serious, Boo.” And then their neighbors: giraffes, elephants, antelopes, zebras, lions, and hundreds of various types of birds continued to teach me by just being them. The giraffe didn’t seem bothered that his neck was unusually long; he wasn’t comparing his neck size to an elephant’s anymore then the elephant was uncomfortable with his trunk. They were just elephanting and giraffing—comfortably. The same was true for every creature there—all so dramatically different—and all happily being them.
It made me conclude: if the Creator was so incredibly imaginative and inventive when She created the world, with all its myriad animals, geographies and plants; it wouldn’t make sense that She became uninspired when creating us, humans. We can’t all have the same dream. Success can’t possibly mean the same thing to all of us. I was uniquely and divinely created to be what my spirit is telling me to be: not what society is telling me to be. My mission isn’t to fit-in but rather to tune-in to who I am and honor her. I need to get to Randi-ing.
So, I did. While I respect them, I feel stifled in organized groups, so I quit them (all of them). While, I make more money writing training manuals for large organizations; I quit doing that and starting writing about the things I wanted to write about. I started doing far more of what I love to do: traveling. Of course, many had much to say: What if your kids want to be in this organization later. Now they won’t be legacy. Most people would die to be in that organization. Girl, I would never give up that amount of money. I can’t believe you wrote THAT?! Girl, you know Susie just became VP of BigCorp. My husband would never let me travel like that. I would travel like that but I have kids. What are you doing on these trips-is it even safe?
There is now an inner peace because I am listening to one voice — my own — when it comes to making decisions about my life. I’m Randi-ing. Do I doubt myself? Frequently. I feel odd most of the time. Many people seem to be climbing up ladders, while I’m on the ground picking the flowers underneath; and I look up and wonder if I should be climbing too. I see all of the pictures people post on social media of the milestones they hit on the climb and sometimes question myself. I wonder if there is something there that I don’t see and may regret not having later. But experience is teaching me that while many are climbing because it is what is right for them; most are climbing because that’s what’s safe for them. They haven’t tuned in to what their direction is so they allowed the crowd to dictate what it should be. When they see me on the ground, picking flowers, they will yell down, “Randi, come on silly, we are climbing up,” because if I climb too then it validates their decision to do so. if I don’t, it makes them realize that perhaps they had alternate choices and makes them feel poorly about the decision to blindly climb.
Part of deciding to trust your voice and your path is accepting that there will be naysayers all along the way. It’s not at all surprising that my travel-buddy’s cousin wrote her a nasty text about the many wonderful trips she has taken around the world (she has put traditional employment and family on hold for a while) because clearly her cousin is weary from or doubting the climb. It’s not his direction. When you are listening to and doing you, you don’t even have the interest in judging what anyone else is doing. The Lion cares nothing about the elephant’s affairs unless he’s hungry.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more