“I am sorry to hear about your troubles.”
That was the sincere response of a recruiter from a trucking school as I explained my situation and my reason for exploring long haul trucking. I appreciated the kind response even as I caught myself almost wanting to correct her. I had explained my situation of needing to look for work after an unexpected turn of events that had me flying off to Europe just days after a job fell through. But, I realized that the recruiter’s sympathetic response said more about her than me. I never said in our conversation that I was having troubles. I simply explained my situation. Assuming that I was having troubles was her judgment, not mine.
It was a mistake not worth correcting and would have made me sound like a pompous ass. I did realize, however, that it revealed something about me. I realized that I am not placing a value judgment on my present circumstances. Yes, I have virtually no income. Yes, I have found myself receiving the same welfare (health care and food stamps) of those who are sometimes vilified in our community. And yes, I have days when my emotions can get pretty swirly as the signs of my being needed by the world are few and far between.
But, no, I am not having troubles. Saying I was having troubles would indicate that I held some expectation about how life should be. It would indicate that I had some image in my mind of what a “trouble-free” life might look like. It would reveal some assumption that I deserved one life over another or that one kind of life had more value than another.
Ever since I decided to honor the stirrings of my soul and to live in the world as honestly and authentically as I can, I have been observing my own unfolding life as if I was watching a movie. “What would happen if I simply let the world know who I was and trusted the world to tell me where I belong,” seems to be the premise of this movie.
Maybe I’ll end up driving truck or selling a couple of books or riding my bike across America with a Muslim imam promoting tolerance and understanding. Maybe my unapologetic determination to understand the soul will attract a congregation with an unusually high tolerance for risk and uncertainty. Maybe I’ll stay on food stamps forever (hard to imagine, but maybe!)
I feel like I am supposed to be troubled by my present circumstances, as my friendly truck school recruiter commiserated. But, I am just not. I am more intrigued and curious than anything else. I feel like I am getting a front row seat to a drama that is part comedy, part tragedy—just like life. How did I ever get so lucky? Why, of all people, have I been invited to a life where I get to experience so much from so many angles?
I have lived comfortably and now I live in poverty. I have experienced love and I have had my heart torn apart. I have cycled across deserts, over mountains, and right into the heart of Muslim Turkey. I have eaten lobster and now I survive on cereal, soup, and peanut butter. I have had it easy and I have had to struggle. This is my life. This is the gift that I have received.
But, troubles? No. I am not troubled. I am as grateful for what I don’t have as I am for what I do have.