5. The Question

What is it that you want to know? And if I answer, will you turn away? To be seen is fascinatingly frightening. Who can bear up under such a thing? Still, I have carried this inside of me for so long. It has carved pieces out of my soul, like water shaping stone. What have I lost in keeping it so close?  It is mine and yet it no more belongs to me than the wind to the sea. Each day it presses against my being, seeking release. What will happen when my fingers unfurl from the last frayed strand? Will I cease to exist? Will I stand alone where I once was loved? I cannot say. But I think it might be time.


The hours of this past week have been consumed by the exhausting, frantic rush to produce something… anything… tangible on which to build a future. The new school year begins next week, and I am more aware than ever of the need to settle the unknowns in my daughter’s life. To create a home for her has been my greatest joy, to spread roots and ground us in place. There are many parts of parenthood where I have failed, but this has been the measurable success of my tenure. I have spent more hours than I can count attempting to predict the unforeseeable, to account for every variable, to make backup plans for the backup plans, so our stability remains intact. And for what? There is so little I can control now. 

Still, I try. So unwilling to surrender. Frantically, I try. 

After weeks and weeks of brainstorming, of hatching new ideas and spectacular imaginings for the future, I have arrived back at square one. Tonight, as I sat threading my daughter’s sewing machine, I encountered just enough silence to grapple with my own thoughts, and I realized the bitter truth of this situation. The truth is that I am deep at war with myself, engaged in an all-out battle over what I think we need for the future and what I actually want… what my gut tells me is actually right.

The always-in-control part of me is fighting to the death to have things sorted out. That part of me has looked at real estate in nearly every market within 500 square miles of here. It has applied to jobs that pay half my normal salary and jobs that pay triple. It has contemplated entrepreneurial enterprises small and large. It has continued to move forward with last year’s plan to pursue a Ph.D. in education. It has networked and attended virtual workshops and watched self-starter youtube videos and networked some more. It is exhausted. 

And then, there is the other part of me, the part that had been successfully tempered by the ever-growing demands of adulthood and the weariness of life. That part of me seems to have woken up like a raging 5-ton giant on the bottom of the ocean seeking light for the first time in two millennia. I don’t know if such a creature exists, but if it did, I think it would perhaps feel something like my soul right now. 

Here is what I understand now. That gripping anxiety in the pit of my stomach stems not from the unsettledness of my situation. Rather, it stems from the exact and precise fear that it will again be settled. That I will settle. That I will go back to the hurdling-through-space juggling act of full-time working and full-time single-parenting. That I will answer every single demand of myself except for the one that is the truest and most deserving to be answered. That time will again pass by me at the speed of light. That… and here it is… that I will never get the chance to step into my true purpose. 

Sounds like artist-talk horseshit, right? I mean, what even is that? A true purpose? Real life means putting your head down and doing what needs to be done to get where you need to go. Raising a kid is a life of purpose for crying out loud! And anyway, teaching is a meaningful vocation and should, therefore, provide all the purpose a person needs in life. Especially when that person has been charged with feeding and clothing and sheltering another person.

This is the inside of my head right now, folks. 

But…. that panic I keep waking up to…. articulated, sounds like this…

My brother died before he had known his own greatness. I see the immensity of his unrealized gifts pressing against the vestiges of his life. It seeps through the snippets of his writing, his letters, his journal entries and even his hastily scrawled notes. He had big thoughts and beautiful ideas. He had no idea the profundity of his own mind. He was still working his way toward who he was going to be, still ripening. 

I turned 38 last week and almost in the same breath, a deep perturbation and dread came over me. What if I don’t have enough time to become the person I am meant to be? What if I don’t have the chance to do this thing that I most love to do? What if I take another job simply to pay the bills (WHICH IS WHAT RATIONAL AND RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE DO!) and something happens to me along the way and this story… my story… never gets told? What if the immensity of this thing that burns inside of me remains wholly untouched- stifled and suppressed- while I do what I need to do to be the provider I want to be? 

This thing has been pressing against me for the entirety of my life. I feel it when I go to bed at night and again before my eyes open in the morning. For the past year I have woken to the single question resting on my tongue. Sometimes I speak it out loud, let the words become a tangible, fully formed thing. 

What is it that you want to know? 

I pretend I don’t understand what it means. 

What is it that you want to know? 

Or who it is in response to.

What is it that you want to know? 

Except I do.

What is it that you want to know?

Because who can ignore the whisperings of Elohim? 

Tell. Your. Story. 

What is it that you want to know? And if I tell you, will you turn away? Will you say it shouldn’t be said? Will you insist that I’m misremembering or spinning tales or making the whole thing up? Will you think it is trite that I want it all to matter as much as I do? Will you think it is strange that I talk to God in the middle of the night? Will it break your heart and make me want to take it back? Will you laugh? Will you try to shut me up? Will you even read? 

I had a job interview today, the first in three months that pays more than minimum wage. It is a good job by all accounts, but it is no longer a job that I am good at. I have the skills and the degree. But I no longer have the heart. There are jobs you can show up for, regardless of your mood or heartspace or energy level. And then there are jobs that require you to be buoyant, to lift others up and carry them along with you, to give and give and give. I have so little left to give right now. Still, you do what you have to do, right? I should be grateful. Things will move fast if I get it. This whole situation will change. I will be able to sleep again at night. 

Except that maybe I won’t. And maybe I’m praying that I don’t. 

I can’t help but feel I’ve been barking up the wrong tree this whole time, chasing the ghosts of a life that is not longer mine. I didn’t make a contingency plan for my own rebellious soul. But I might be starting to. There are a thousand ways to exist on this planet, in the finite space of time we are allotted. I have to find a way that makes this existence worth every remaining breath. I have to believe that we each have purpose. What else could this life be for, if not to realize that purpose? 

Maybe I’ll get the job. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll buy a shack in the woods and make my teenage daughter live off the land with me. Or maybe, just maybe, I will take a leap of faith and step into this thing that I believe is meant for me. At this exact moment, I cannot say. But I do know that I have to find a way to feed the 2-ton giant that just woke up. Should it return to sleep, I’m not sure it will ever emerge again. So maybe now, it is time.


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Published by dainsworth

The tether. That thing that binds us to our families of origin, not by any desire of our own, but through the mere act of existence. We spend our lives exploring the roots of this connection, be it to an unending wellspring of love or the heavy, unshakeable burden of pain. We create new ones. We watch as old ones fray. And sometimes, in life's most painful moments, we witness those tethers break. (un)tethered traces the paths of old and new connections through family, love, the modern church, and fourteen-years of single-parenting. I begin this blog in a time of deep uncertainty, having recently left my position at the boarding school where I lived and taught for the past five years. Technically, I still live in Charlottesville, VA, but the next steps in life could take us anywhere! There are many unknowns ahead, but I know I am not alone in this. I hope this will be a place of solace for all who are wandering/wondering through this time.

4 thoughts on “5. The Question

  1. Sure enjoy your blog. Amazing that I can sit here in my cozy study in western Canada, sipping on my second cup of coffee, and have a conversation (virtual, but feels like a conversation) with someone many miles away. You are such a good writer – your blog is the perfect length, long enough to make me feel I’m part of your conversation, but not so long that it drains me. And the subject of this blog is deep, like “deep calling to deep” from the psalms.

    I’m fascinated that you’re having a conversation with Elohim (great name to use, by the way, as it reminds me of the plurality of God, with their male and female aspects), and that you’re sharing so personally. Glad you mentioned your age – it helps me to understand your predicament, and you are certainly in a predicament! So much is happening in your life right now. Back to the age – 35 – considered the great divide (I know, you’re 38, but close enough). “It divides the world that was given to us from the new world to which we must give birth” (Beredene Jocelyn, Citizens of the Cosmos, Steiner Books, 2009). And it sounds like you’re in that soul-churning, mind-churning and body-churning stage of giving birth to who you will be. From what I’ve read in your blogs, there’s a great soul being born, a soul that understands its responsibilities, yet isn’t afraid to grapple with the bigger questions of life. That is one fascinating question: What is it that you want to know? And always remember the universal law – those who seek, will find.

    Do you believe in angels? I have a hunch you do, although you may be like me and not have the faculties to see into the spiritual realms (yet). This is certainly a time for Elohim to bring an angel or two directly into your life, just to help you get onto, or keep on, the right path. I’ll be saying a prayer to Elohim that that will happen in this case, and you can use all the encouragement sent at this time. And what a time for you to be giving birth to that 2-ton monster!! These are unusual times we’re living in – there’s a lot of darkness, but there’s also the light of hope in some areas. Many people have been forced to discover who they really are and want to become.

    By the way, I’m 64 years of age, which means that if I’m to put into practice what I read in my Bible, that I should be serving you (Romans 9:12). I’d so love to converse with you in our Zoom study group, even if you were to just make a “guest” appearance to see that we’re not that bad of a bunch. We’re a small group of about 10 who meet virtually to study the Edgar Cayce material – we have two meetings a week, one that looks at contemporary issues on Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. EST, and one that studies the lessons in A Search for God on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. EST. If you’re interested, just send an email to Antonia at info@antonialau.org and she’ll give you the Zoom link. Tell her that Maverick invited you.

  2. So passionate, clear and moving. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and true Self. It stirred something deep within me which has been asleep,

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