16 Hardy Street
The house at 16 Hardy St was where I lived for a large part of my childhood. I spent many afternoons in that backyard, reading on the swing, reading atop the monkey bars or reading while perched in the boughs of a tree. There were a lot of books in my childhood and a lot of imagination. This was the age when I was capable of almost anything I set my mind to. The age when I was willing to give anything a go.
There were two trees worth climbing in our yard. Ten year old me thought they were very tall and I’d climb as high as I could go. Of course I didn’t leap from the ground to the top in a single bound, instead I did what every kid does. I hauled myself onto the lowest branch before making my way up to the next branch and so on. From the security of the branch I was currently on I could test to see if the next branch would support me. If I thought it would be strong enough, I’d work my way up. I would feel a shot of adrenaline each time I attempted to go higher than I’d been before, but my confidence was only a few seconds below me on the tree. Once I’d found my balance on the new branch I felt comfortable at that level.
I don’t remember a specific moment when I forgot that it was okay to climb a tree one branch at a time. But somewhere along the way I lost my sense of adventure. The kid who knew the enjoyment of just ‘trying new stuff’, who loved the thrill of achievement at getting to each new level and who had complete confidence that he could ‘find a way to work it out’ grew up and became fearful.
There are things I want to explore that I’m putting off until I can do them ‘properly’ or ‘get them right’. As if a future version of me is going to magically know better or be more capable, all because he waited, read more or was given permission by someone else.
Today I’ve been reflecting on a quote from the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. He refers to finding one’s vocation, but you could replace the word vocation with acceptance, success, happiness, fulfilment or many others and the statement still rings true.
Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfil the original selfhood given me at birth by God.
“Scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach” sounds like something I do a lot. It can be paralysing and prevent me from taking any action at all.
But today I remember the me of 1984, the kid who had his eye on the very top of the tree, but was prepared to begin climbing from the lowest branch. “Accepting the treasure of the true self I already possess” doesn’t prevent me from learning, improving and growing, but it reminds me I don’t need to wait until something or somebody external decides I’m ready.
Whether it’s climbing a tree or tackling a new challenge, within the treasure chest of my true self is everything I need to start my chosen journey now.