By: Tina Cook
“Never say never!” A few weeks ago, I actually said I would probably never write anything else again for my Tina’s Tales column. It’s good to know I’m still following the prompts from that voice inside my head and the signs from my God above that will not be silenced until I do their bidding. So let’s get on with it…
The place I find myself right now isn’t some NEW epiphany. I’ve been walking into its essence for the past year, experiencing the culmination of it for over a decade. But when I ran across Ralph Ellison’s quote, “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free”… I just felt to my core that it summarized the spirit of life. Honestly, I was propelled somewhat against my will into this journey that has dared me to look into the depth of my soul.
When I left my career last year, I went through a dark period of feeling like I had lost everything. But, the truth is that without that career, I found much that I had lost of myself without realizing it. And I now understand that walking away from something that allowed safety and growth at the time was the only way I could genuinely claim my freedom and begin to embrace ME. My sadness, as with any loss, nags at me on occasion but I have grown! And my growth is now so large that the grief is smaller. I recognize it now as simply the beauty of TIME. I didn’t move on because I was sure I was ready to make changes. I moved on because I outgrew who I used to be. And, when signs that all is falling apart consume you, a decision has to be made: either switch to survival mode and pull yourself back together or fall apart and lose more of yourself. Change is terrifying but also so refreshingly exhilarating! I decided it was time for me to join the rollercoaster of life. And, I am enjoying every twist, turn and bump along the way!
In retrospect, I see clearly that my entire life has been an ongoing search for meaning and purpose. I have struggled to understand my nature…why did I choose at such a young age a destructive path? Yet, at the same time, I never ceased striving to carve out a significant life for myself despite the often detrimental consequences of my actions. There was always that nagging voice (Mama, my sister, God…?) and the softness of the real ME deep inside my heart that kept me searching…longing to have a meaningful and purposeful life.
Ellison’s words have helped me understand I’m being drawn home again…evolving into my truest self…present for those who ultimately matter and love me for all I am: an imperfect person. I’m letting the big world take care of itself and resting in the comfort of my own small place in it — giving to others when I can and as I identify their need but also remembering I have needs, too. By no means do I think that I have arrived and know exactly who I am. Do we ever? But, I am more introspective, reflective, and question the WHY of what I do with each decision I make: ‘Is this something I want to do for me, or instead, is it an expectation, a limitation placed on me by society or even by myself?’
I’ll wrap this up with a reflection on epiphanies. I think people have them all the time. Usually they are worthless. A small percentage of the time someone may decide to change some aspect of their behavior. Like Paul from the Bible. He was an anal-retentive control freak who liked to persecute Christians. Then God knocked him down, blinded him, and reamed him out. So he decided to stop persecuting Christians. But if you keep reading, you’ll see that he was still an anal-retentive control freak! He changed his behavior, but I don’t believe people change their essential nature, their core values or beliefs. If you look beyond what you can see, you usually find the real…the heart of a person.
I have discovered this: the things that happen in life just make me more ME. This I know for sure — the defining moments in our life are never planned. We control nothing but our actions and reactions. Today, I choose to live with more abandon while staying true to my core values. This choice allows me to continue growing, learning, and most of all, becoming the REAL me! This is my defining moment…and, my lifelong resolution.
Tina L. Cook, Office Manager
Don Carter Heating & Cooling