I was awoken at dawn the other day by the bleating lamb next door. Only the lamb sounded closer than that, like it was just outside my window. I thought I might have been dreaming, except usually in my dreams sounds are distant and vague, not in loud surround sound. I wiped the sleep out of my eyes, scrambled to quickly put my thick dorky glasses on and looked out the window. Sure enough, there’s the little lamb on our doorstep, grazing on the freshest spring leaves he could find. He wasn’t there long before he scampered off and back through his secret path in the leafy chaos of our blurred property line, knowing, somehow, that he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be.
This little lamb, along with a combination of other things has me thinking. He has me thinking not only about whether lambs have a conscience but he also has me thinking about place, and about where one is supposed to be versus where one actually is.
I suppose this fits right in with the theme of my last blog. The one about how I came to the decision to leave my job and then how that decision was confirmed by a strange concoction of things both out of my control and also my very own doing.
One thing I didn’t mention in much detail was the evolution behind that big decision.
As I said, I’d been questioning my restlessness for years. I knew there was something behind it. Instinct told me I needed to rectify that so I began to explore my options. I’d even interviewed for various different jobs with multiple companies. I was offered jobs – one translating and another for UNESCO but I didn’t accept. Despite my burnout, I somehow knew starting a new job would have only been a lateral move. I don’t know how I knew but I did, a new job wasn’t the right move nor was it the right moment. Deep down I felt that the process was still on-going, the evolution of whatever decision there would be to make was still playing its course.
It wasn’t until I made the decision to go to Goddard that I felt as though I was able to satisfy some of the things I felt were lacking. Writing with purpose gave me a much needed outlet. Committing to my art, as my professor put it, made all the difference in my life. At Goddard, I learned many things that changed and transformed my world for the better, but one thing I found particularly invaluable was learning how to pay attention to process.
Process can be a pain in the ass but it can also be quite helpful if you listen up. At Goddard, while everyone is frantically trying to heave together some kind of a creative thesis, professors continually repeat the phrase, “trust the process” over and over again. It’s like a lot of things. You hear it the first time, you hear it the second time but it’s not until you hear it for the fifty-eighth millionth time that it finally clicks and makes perfect sense.
Trust the process.
Trust. This is the part where you’re in the dark. The part where, despite your inability to see, you must continue forward anyway. It’s the part where you might be called upon to even have a little faith; not in things outside you but to have faith in yourself and in your knowing. The problem is that sometimes having faith in yourself is even harder than having faith in things outside yourself. Maybe that’s because when other things fail us – despite our unwavering faith in them—we still have something outside ourselves to blame so that we (or perhaps better said, our egos) are left unscathed.
Having faith in ourselves and the process we are undergoing calls us into action and anytime we have to DO anything, it automatically makes us accountable. (I’ll whisper this next line because it’s such a taboo to say out loud.) It means we can mess up. Yes. There. I said it. Doing something, doing anything, means we can mess up. Notice I didn’t say “fail.” I don’t believe in failure, not really. I don’t believe that people who make mistakes have somehow failed. It just means that the outcome of their actions simply did not meet their expectations. So what? Hopefully they learned something. It’s process. And our professors were right; it is to be trusted. It’s the having faith part of it all that actually propels us into that (sometimes difficult) forward lurch. It’s when the evolution of the process actually occurs; the zig-zag on the graph, the tick-mark on the timeline.
So what does all this have to do with my neighbor’s little lamb? Nothing really, except for the fact that the lamb was an integral and vital part of my process. Without him, I would have never thought to mention all this in the first place.
But perhaps there is more to it than that. We probably have more in common with the lamb than we think. We are all like lambs at some point or another in our lives. We want to push the boundary of our backyard and rightfully so, we want see if the grass really is greener on the other side. We know better, but we do it anyway. He knew he wasn’t supposed to be on my doorstep, he knew he didn’t belong there. But he risked it anyway—he entered into the territory of a lamb-eater. Not once, but twice. He came back a second time and when he did I didn’t run into the house to get my carving knife. Instead, I ran into the house to get my camera and then I wrote a blog about it. All because a little lamb decided to take a few chances.
*For the record, it’s important I mention that when I started writing this blog about the lamb, it was not going to be about process at all. I was going to tell you about all the things I found while scouring the second hand shops this week. It was going to be called “Findings.” Instead, while writing about process, I was called upon to trust it. I deleted two pages of my previous words and replaced them with the above.
P.S. After I took that cute picture of the lamb’s butt, I notice he was actually peeing. Here he is below, smiling in spite of himself.