A spiritual journey

Following my own path

YOU KNOW ALL THOSE KIDS in the mall with their tattoos, low-slung jeans, and tricolored hair? Do you notice how similar they all look to one another? Yet, ironically, I so well remember being a teenager, and the most important thing in the world was to be different—to mark out my own identity, separate from my family.

But the ironic part is that in all that effort to be original, my friends and I were more conformist than we ever realized. I remember wearing my hair just like my schoolmates (hanging in my eyes with no discernible style), wearing my sweater draped sloppily over my shoulders, just the way my girlfriends did, and talking, walking, and thinking pretty much like every other kid in my school. I guess we didn't see that in trying to discover our unique identities, we were photocopies of everyone else.

And it didn't get a whole lot easier as I grew into adulthood. The same questions haunted me—Who am I? What am I doing on this earth? What's my purpose? I spent a lot of years—conforming and not conforming—just trying to figure out the answers to those questions. Sometimes I felt as if I were constantly arriving at a crossroads, with paths stretching out in a myriad of directions, each one promising that if I pursued that path—that one alone—I'd finally be at peace. Those paths included politics, a variety of religions, feminism, yoga, relationships, academia, fiction writing, business. Along the way came marriage and parenting. And so much of life was good. Great, in fact. But still, those questions wouldn't go away.

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Calculating a new way to think
November 17, 2003

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