A leaf on the wind

In high school, I was voted Most Well-Rounded. At a time when college admissions folks were advising students to be well-rounded, this was a big deal. Nowadays they tell you to have niche interests, show intense passion in something to show your dedication, but in my day, “well-rounded” was the buzzword. Well, 5 years after that prestigious honor, I remain pretty well-rounded. I was never this way to score brownie points for school counselors or teachers. And I have never feigned interest in anything just to appear this way. I simply love too much to focus on anyone thing.

Now I don’t mean I don’t have interests, or that I love all things equally. I love watching TED talks and Youtube videos about space and math and physics, but I don’t want to devote my life to it (I’d end up with serious anxiety and daily existential crises if I thought too much about that stuff). And I do have specific interests that guide me – human psychology, a love of stories, child development, etc. I’m pretty spiritually well-rounded (rosary one night, Rumi the next) but I also specifically focus on the Gospel to center and guide my life. So, I’m not willy-nilly choosing everything, everywhere, at all times to be at the center of my life.

I’m not like some other people. My brother was born to sing and perform and spend all his life with music. I think he would wither away into the ether if someone took away music from him. My best friend is about to travel the world because she loves food and agriculture and the environment; for her to do anything other than this kind of work and research would be unthinkable. They aren’t NOT well-rounded (sorry, bad phrasing) but they have a pretty definable Thing or Passion.

Why do I bring this up?

Because my SPARK program has ended and next week the End begins. Eight weeks of summer camps will start and with each week, I will be closing out my time as a volunteer at CAP. And so I have to think beyond, “Ok, what cabinet will I organize today?” and think, “Ok, what direction is my adult life going?” I’ve got the degree, I’ve got the boyfriend, I’ve got some experiences under my belt. Where am I going? What is my Thing? What if I have multiple Things? What if I don’t know which Thing is THE Thing? (There’s lots of cool Things.)

And this is where being well-rounded is annoying. Because everything seems interesting; everything seems possible. Graduate school, vocation school, travel, jobs; working with kids, or with adults, or with this disorder, or with that disability, or in this or that field – it all seems good and doable and meaningful and I’m sure I’d be okay anywhere. Any situation can be a place to meet God and meet others. So which situation do I try to put myself in?

“Why don’t you pray about?” some well-meaning but slightly bothersome person might ask. I do! Nothing is un-prayed about in my life, really. But God’s not a vocation counselor, and God has given me a wild, fierce free-will. God’s only vocation requirement is to love the Lord, Your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s a vocation that can be filled whether your main job is to write a thesis or write a grocery list.

So what’s a girl to do?

Float like a leaf in the wind, for now, I guess. In (my new favorite) T.V. show Firefly, the pilot of the ship, Wash, is making a particularly difficult landing and as he’s coming down, he’s muttering and smiling: “I am a leaf on the wind, watch as I soar!”* It’s stressful and dangerous and this silly pilot is imagining himself a leaf on the wind, floating. I guess that’s what I’ve been doing. From my college choices, to traveling to India, to coming to Kentucky, I’ve just kind of been a leaf, soaring in the wind, wherever the wind will take me. Maybe that’s my Thing. Kind of scary, but oh well. Watch how I soar!

* Okay, this phrase is apparently what Japanese kamikaze pilots said, and it comes from a poem, which if you know the show, this makes sense, but who knew?)

Kate B. is a long-term volunteer at CAP’s Eagle Child and Family Development Center. She is a member of the McCreary Volunteer Community.

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