I have played it very safe over my life - really! I married young, stayed home with my kids and thought that was what I wanted. But then, I went back to school as an adult, got divorced, got married again, got divorced, fell in love, moved in with a man (an amazing man!), dropped out of my religious fervour and fell into a multi-coloured land of change; and, finally, I found out that playing it safe isn't safe at all - this "grey scale living" can actually set you up for more drama and disappoint and depression. Nothing too bright and exciting, nothing unpredictable, nothing that would draw attention, just shades of grey book-ended between black on one side and white on the other.
I veered off the highway somewhat when I started my quest to live authentically - no more pretending or trying to fit into self imposed constraints. Roles prescribed by my understanding of "church" and my own belief system came under scrutiny as I opened myself up to examining my values - those deep-seated inner workings that affected my beliefs and actions. I looked at my experience and realized that much of what dictated my actions - religious beliefs and structure, past experience, false pride and excessive perfectionism - paralysed my need to grow and know who I am right now. Very little reflected my values - although much, of course, made it more comfortable to navigate the world I had chosen.
So, I jumped out of my comfort zone; examined my reasons for all kinds of decisions and started living as ME. I eschewed marriage and embraced a common law relationship filled with love and respect and fun. I started travelling to places outside my "Home and Native Land" and found the hidden adventuress within - laughing at getting lost in Beijing, risking train travel in a country where the language was impossible to learn; exploring alleys and eating from street vendors; trusting my instincts and living - really living. I loved to just watch the Chinese go about the simplest activities, exercising in the parks, getting their hair cut on the street, zig zagging their way across bumper to bumper traffic and holding their children up to urinate in a garbage can in a busy train station. Life - not right or wrong, better or worse - but life - and it felt amazing.
Facing my values - really digging deep and separating them from my beliefs and the society I had chosen as my world - set me free to become ME. I know now that I am a lover - a lover of life, people, places, knowledge, wisdom, beauty - and there is not even one shade of grey left.
I may shock those who know me well, attract a gasp here and a smile there, but, I will be me. And, I hope that one day, someone will walk past me sitting on a park bench and wonder, "What is she up to now!"