Saturday, 2 April 2011

Amman, Jordan

My final day in Jordan, I visited the Jordanian capital of Amman.

 View of downtown from the Amman Citadel.

It was at the Amman Citadel that I made my final decision regarding my offer of enrollment into the Hollins University MFA program.

This was a decision that has been weighing heavily on my mind.

When I packed up ship and got out of the military last fall, dozens of my Army friends told me how "courageous" I was.  I'm not sure if it was courage.  It was just that I felt like I didn't have an option; in order to keep evolving in life I knew that there was no other choice.

There were many facets of the military that I adored, there were many facets of my personality that were well-suited to the military.  I'm so grateful for the military and all it taught me and everywhere it took me.

But my passion was gone by the end.

I believe that my soldiers deserve a passionate leader.  I realized that staying in wasn't fair to just me.  It wasn't fair to them, either.

But getting out was scary.  And it's still scary especially since, beginning this fall, I'm throwing myself heart and soul into the writing field.  I'm not even sure if it's possible to support myself this way.  I've never needed an awful lot to make me happy.  Just the bare necessities.  I'll take a second (or third) job on the side, if that's what it takes.  Still, I'm not even sure if it's possible to scrape by this way.

But this is what I love to do.

Life is short and in the end I feel like I have to follow my heart no matter where it leads me.  I know I'm an idealist, probably too big of an idealist, but I believe that following your heart is the only way to truly live.

Recently, I read The Road Less Traveled by author and psychiatrist Scott Peck.  There was a passage in there that really resonated with me and after I read it I knew that I'd made the right decision to get out of the military and immerse myself in the love of my life--writing--even though the future is so risky and so uncertain.

Scott Peck's parents sent him to an exclusive boarding school called Exeter when he was an adolescent.  They were trying to groom him for an Ivy League education.  If he stayed at Exeter and did well, he was virtually guaranteed acceptance into schools like Harvard and Princeton.  But after a few months at Exeter, Peck realized that he was very unhappy and that he didn't want to be there.  He decided to quit, despite his parents' objections.

The passage reads:

"If I returned to Exeter I would be returning to all that was safe, secure, right, proper, constructive, proven and known.  Yet is was not me.  In the depths of my being I knew it was not my path.  But what was my path.  If I did not return, all that lay ahead was unknown, undetermined, unsafe, unsanctified, unpredictable.  Anyone who would take such a path must be mad.  I was terrified.  But then, at the moment of my greatest despair, from my unconscious there came a sequence of words like a strange disembodied oracle from a voice that was not mine:  'The only real security in life lies in relishing life's insecurity.'  Even if it meant being crazy and out of step with all that seemed holy, I had decided to be me.  I rested."  

This passage made me realize that life is inherently risky and uncertain...  You can either hide from that fact and try to be as secure and safe as possible.  Or you can let your heart dictate the path.

Today I emailed Hollins MFA director, Cathy Hankla.

"I'm thrilled to accept your offer of admission," I wrote.

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