Henry James said, “It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined.” It’s one of my favorite inspirational quotes. When I stumbled on that little piece of motivation on the cover of a notebook last week in a Parisian bookstore, I threw it in with the rest of my purchases, not realizing at the time how that bit of inspiration would start to push me beyond my limits.
Every so often, I go through a stage where I want to do something different, where I’m ready for a big change. During “My Last Big Change,” I picked up and moved my life and my law practice from Los Angeles to New York. Life for me is about making changes, taking those risks; otherwise I am too content. Some people are happy with content. In fact, when used as an adjective, Dictionary.com defines content as “a state of peaceful happiness.” But for me, content is defined as a state of chaotic restlessness; it is equal to a slow death. I don’t always, at that moment, know where I’m going, but I know because of that restless feeling that change is on its way.
My daily meditation involves envisioning what I really want, and taking my temperature on my life and where I want to go. I ask myself “What do I want to be?” “Where do I want to go?” and most importantly, “How do I leave my mark on this world?” I let myself daydream about the infinite possibilities. I also I seek the counsel of family and good friends. Whereas some people are superstitious or leery about speaking on their thoughts or plans, I am the exact opposite. How do you know who can help you, refer you or further inspire you if you don’t speak to others about your dreams.
My problem lately is even though I meditate and speak to others about what I want and where I want to go, I still have this fear of letting go and doing it. I genuinely admire true artists who will starve for their craft, throw everything behind their intention and just go for it. I am truly so ensconced in my career as a lawyer, even though I may want to throw caution to the wind, and let’s say relocate to Paris for a year and write — it’s beyond terrifying to me.
Looking closer to home, simply writing this column every week is terrifying for me. I will be the first to admit that many of my words are tempered when I get to paper because I balance writing with my 15 years of practicing law. I have frequent conversations with my ESSENCE editor about letting go and just writing. “But I am a lawyer, how will that look to my clients? How will that look to other lawyers?” The truth is, I have been lawyering for so long, my legal reputation speaks for itself, so I can “afford” to let go. I can say I really don’t care about what they think, but the truth is, apparently I do care. Lawyering is my bread and butter; it affords me a lifestyle and a certain satisfaction, but it is not the be all and end all of my existence. I have other dreams, ones that are attainable, but I still have yet to really, truly strip myself of that lawyer persona and adopt my writer persona and put thoughts and stories out there and see where it takes me.
I have had my moments of blatant honesty and vulnerability throughout writing this column and I have certainly never been disingenuous here, but I have flat-out refused to write about certain things. A great example: My ESSENCE editor knew about a great passionate Parisian love affair (actually a “like affair”) that I had, yet I refused to write about it. Truth is, the relationship fizzled, like I knew it would, however, it was damn fun while it lasted. That “relationship” was filled with memoir moments which would have made for a great read and inspiration for readers of this column, yet I couldn’t let go of my lawyer persona and just write. How am I going to get to where I want to go as a writer and inspirational speaker if I don’t let go, write and tell that story… consistently?
My most recent moment of honesty and vulnerability was last week’s column where I admitted to pangs of loneliness. That was beyond difficult to admit to the world, to readers, to potential suitors (and even those exes), but the truth is the truth. The truth is I haven’t been on one date in 2011. Even more frightening is that I don’t see an end in sight. Yes, I will date Black, White, and other, but the other part of that truth is that Black, White or other haven’t asked me out. I put on that Superwoman cape and deal with it, write about it and connect with others like me, because we single ladies are not alone in our feelings or in that truth of loneliness.
Mark Twain said that “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I don’t want to be one of those people, so in the words of one of my client’s songs, “Sometimes you just have to… GO (because) you will never know what you will ever be, if you never try you will never see.” Being the lawyer that I am, I told him I was copping his lyrics for this column, but being the writer that I am, I just think I’ll take his advice.