Life is a continual learning process and I am currently in the process of learning that we often never arrive at the answer we are in search of--at least not overnight and not in the way we expect.
In essence, I ran away to Paris. I ran for several reasons, not the least of which was to simply escape. I needed, not wanted, but needed some time away from my relentless troubles and, quite frankly, from my life. I thought by getting out of the thick of it I would be able to better decipher which course I should take at this crucial crossroads in my life while simultaneously evaluating what it is I really do want. Yet once basking in the magnificent and fascinating city that is Paris, the last thing I wanted to do was pause to contemplate my problems! I may not have developed any epiphanies as to which solution shall best repair my ruinous path, but I do feel that I have grown some, changed some, and realized a few things that deep down I've probably known all along. I was reminded of my personal strength and resolve which actually bears greater value in the outcome of this story than the choice itself. In other words, I essentially arrived at my answer; it just didn't come to me in the form I was originally anticipating.
I surmise it is rather fitting that living in the City of Lights for a few weeks would illuminate the dusty bulb in my head and aid the rediscovery of certain knowledge that had spent far too much time in the dark (rather than referring to my time there as visiting or staying in Paris, I have deliberately phrased it so that the verb would more suitably reflect the action--for living is precisely what I did). It is ironic that being thousands of miles from home and adopting a foreign lifestyle is what brought me closer to what was once so familiar; for at one time I was much more in tune with my strength and determination. I was living quite differently than I do now, and very contentedly so.
Over the past several months I have allowed the depths of the unknown to weigh heavily upon me, hindering any action one way or another. Now, in light of my Parisian adventure, I plan to focus less on what I don't know and more on what I do know.
Firstly, I know that I alone am responsible for my happiness, and am therefore becoming more committed to said pursuit.
Secondly, I know I don't need oodles of material possessions, such as my big house or perfectly dressed children to be happy. It amazes me that as we get used to having nice things we begin to feel defined by them and eventually lose our true identities and self-worth to meaningless objects. I have learned that in reality “all this” contributes very little, if any, to my overall happiness. I am certainly not ready to give up all modern comforts, but I can just as certainly be comfortable with less—exceedingly so if I were more fulfilled and enriched in the other areas of my life.
I know that I need more than a life of domesticity to feel satisfied, happy and whole. I need novelty and adventure every so often to feel alive. I would also greatly benefit by experiencing a sense of accomplishment, particularly if I could turn an interest I am passionate about into a way to financially provide for myself.
I know that always playing it safe constrains one's spirit. Just as we can't expect great things to happen if we don't take risks, we can't expect things to improve if we don't incite change. Nor can we expect to live our lives to their fullest potential if we always dismiss our discontent and insatiable yearning.
And possibly most importantly of all, I know that I am strong and completely capable. If I can manage to survive a slew of misadventures while traveling alone in a foreign country--ready to go back for more before it is even over--I surmise I can hold my own in most situations. I utilized my own judgment and instincts, explaining myself to no one. And wouldn't you know: every situation was successfully resolved. Not only that, being on my own much of the time allowed me the luxury of enjoying each moment without the pollution of interruptions or the pressure to hurry. I was happier than I've been in a very long time and even made more friends in my three weeks there than in my five years here.
I guess in some ways I did have an epiphany regarding my future and taking a crack at independence in the big, bad world. The answer I found wasn't exactly whether or not I should do it. The answer I found was that I can do it.