Also not as famous a question, but still an important one and asked by Lorien at the end. “Where are you going?” is intimately connected with “Why are you here?” and the others. (Seriously, you haven’t figured out by now that I can’t see things without drawing connections?)
Not an easy one to answer or able to be separated from where one has been or is now. It’s also a question that can make even the strongest tremble, especially when put together with where you’ve been and where you are now. As Emperor Turhan also told Sheridan, “The past tempts us. The present confuses us. The future frightens us. And our lives slip away moment by moment, lost in that vast, terrible in-between.” The last-several years have often felt like that in-between. I’m tired of that.
Now I’m not a big risk-taker ready to jump off into the unknown, and maybe that abundance of caution has held me back. Longer-term, I can’t really say for sure what is ahead, but maybe there’s something in the shorter-term. Not a lot of people know this yet, but it’s probably time to come out about it, so to speak. Last month I applied for a placement with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. (That’s Pacific Northwest, not Northwest DC.)
A large part of me looks forward to the chance to live in community with others and have a chance to do something that really impacts the lives of people. In addition, the Ignatian spiritual tradition of finding Christ present in the world, spiritual discernment, and active service really appeals me now, especially the discernment aspect. Spirituality, specifically Christian, is such a huge part of my life that I need that kind of grounding in my life. From time to time I have to find my way back to that in a more intense way. Also, as an INFJ (though with strong INTJ tendencies), it’s hard for me to be satisfied with work that doesn’t have some sort of larger purpose or involve service to others.
Plus, despite having grown up in the South and lived here in DC for almost 10 years (longer than any other one place), I really miss the West Coast. (Living in the San Francisco Bay Area can do that to a person.) Nevertheless, it’s the Pacific Northwest that’s had a special draw. There’s the climate. (Yes, I like clouds and rain.) There’s the pace of life. There’s the natural beauty. (Whenever I’ve seen the Twilight movies [don’t judge], I sit there mooning over the moss on the trees.) Of course, I’m more of an urban-living person. I’ve visited Seattle, and it was one of the very few places where I’ve immediately thought, “I could see myself here.” My preference for placement would be either Seattle or Portland, but I’d go where they’d need me. (Mind you, DC is the coldest place I’ve ever lived; so some places, such as Alaska, might be a challenge. A temperature of 20 degrees is really cold for me. Negative 20, I can’t quite comprehend.)
At the same time, it’s scary. It’s a huge leap for me. I’d be leaving friends (particularly my best friend, with whom I’m probably closer than most married spouses are to each other) and my parish family at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church. Right now, I’m pretty far from my parents down in Mississippi, but I’d be even farther. Since they’re getting on up there in age, that becomes more of a concern for me. Luckily, my brother lives in New Orleans, a lot closer to them; and they’ve said that sometimes I do need to do things for myself. And then I also really hate the process of moving and then settling down in a new place.
Nevertheless, I’m still excited by the thought of making this kind of change even if it is a scary risk. I don’t know what will come after that year, but I hope to have a clearer idea. Now, the JVC year would start in August, but I do have plans for the summer that have been in the works for some time. More on that latter.