Monday, July 10, 2006

Walking the Labyrinth

Dear Act One Classmates Who I Met Over The Weekend.

Hello, my name is Amy The Writer. But I’m also Amy The Bwak Bwak Chicken Coward, because I did not tell you all about this blog yet. It didn’t seem appropriate. On Friday night, when we all individually stood and said our name, where we were from, our favorite movie, and the craziest thing we’ve ever done, it seemed superfluous to drop in “oh, and by the way I have a blog called, go check it out.” Starting this blog isn’t the craziest thing I’ve ever done, what I told you that night still beats it (shooting a guy in Germany last year with a plastic pellet gun because he shot Winifred first. Great story, will tell blog readers about it some other time.)

I did mention to some of you in conversations over the weekend here and there that I have a blog, so I’ll wait until you guys ask me more about it before directing you here.

And I must amend the statements below. I may not be asking a lot of questions in class after all. I think the best course of action for the next month is Shut Up And Listen. To our instructors and to all of you. So that’s what I’ll do. Unless something comes up. As always, I reserve the right to change my mind. Since I do it, oh, about every five minutes.

But I am a Bwak Bwak Chicken Coward. That’s the bottom line.


We had the retreat at a place called Serra Retreat in Malibu. It wasn’t on the beach, it was a mile up the mountain on the other side of the PCH. The views were very nice, but I think I may have been the only one who realized that what we were looking at was in fact Malibu Colony, where a bunch o’ celebrities have multi-million dollar homes.

Thankfully, there was lots of fun flora and fauna to look at and the other mountains, which were pretty inspiring. It was a weekend chock full o’ stuff, a lot of which I’m still processing in my own somewhat Slow Like Turtle way. But I do think it’ll be interesting to share this one thing with all of you.

In between the classes, we were encouraged to roam the grounds and Reflect On Stuff. This is a Franciscan Retreat, so there was a lot of Catholic statues around, which didn’t resonate as much as it should have for my plebeian Presbyterian taste. But there was this thing. A Labyrinth. There was no minotaur roaming around, nor was David Bowie there trying to turn my baby brother into a goblin.

It’s made out of rocks on the ground, but there’s some literature under glass nearby, and it explains the correct way to walk the labyrinth will be to think ahead of time “Where am I?” and “What do I need to receive?” Then you’re supposed to let the distractions fall away as you walk the labyrinth, then pray in the middle, and finally “take what you gain with you as you leave.”

So off I go. Where am I now? Well, that part’s easy enough. I know exactly where I am. I’m here, in Los Angeles. It’s where I’m supposed to be. I continue to walk the path, it’s really narrow, like a cue line in Disneyland. (Seriously, just try to walk the cue line for the Alice In Wonderland ride . You can tell that the Disney engineers in 1955 did not anticipate the future American obesity problem.)

It occurs to me that there’s only way to go here. Forward. It’s not a maze, where you can make a wrong turn. There’s not divergent paths to steal you away. And I can extrapolate that to my life currently. I know I’m supposed to be pursuing writing, and I can count myself blessed that there aren’t any distractions from that. There’s no doubt, no wiffle waffling, should I be an actress? An accountant? A bank teller? A waitress? I’ve always known. I’m still wrestling with the idea that solid knowledge like that isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t jinx me. Embracing it will not destroy me. It’s not prideful. Seriously, I thought for the longest time that it was. Longest time meaning up until about a week ago.

The labyrinth is designed in such a way that’s a little sneaky, it twists to the right when you want to go left. You think you should be getting closer to the center when it looks like you’re getting farther away. Just like the faith you’re supposed to have.

I get to the middle and Reflect. I trust God to lead because I’ve got nothing else to do. That sounds really bad, doesn’t it? Let’s try again. I trust God to lead because nothing else gets me anywhere. I trust it’s God leading, rather than my own understanding of my life. Even though it really smells like it’s my own understanding of my life.

If there’s anything I’m starting to learn about myself, it’s that I should go ahead and trust in God, and SAY it’s God, BELIEVE it’s God, even if I can’t understand or explain why it feels like it’s myself INSTEAD of God. And my own understanding (which the Bible says I’m not supposed to lean on anyway) will catch up eventually.

See, I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since I was sixteen. Stole my mother’s typewriter and barricaded myself in my room, only coming out occasionally to ask her for another ream of paper because I had run out. It never occurred to me at sixteen that I should ask God what He wanted me to do with my life, and I went to church every Sunday like a good girl.

As I got older and kept writing, the two ideas still seemed separate. There’s God. There’s my career. I’ll try to be as good of a person as I can and try to make it as a screenwriter. God doesn’t care about my career so much as He cares about me being a good person.

It wasn’t until I got out to Los Angeles and heard a guest speaker at church say something to the effect of whatever your talent is, whatever you’re really good at, that talent comes from God, and He WANTS you to pursue it for His glory. This blew my mind. You mean, everything I’ve been working on is actually something God wanted me to pursue the entire time? This was a career aspiration that God had blessed from the get go, and I never realized it until now? Holy CRAP!

So ye old understanding finally caught up with God. I’ve already talked about how I reluctantly applied for Act One even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it until AFTER I got in. Again, God leading, and my own understanding following several miles behind.

So “What do I need to receive?” A Quicker Amy Understanding? That’d be nice. Or a more fierce Trusting In God?

As I stood in the middle and puzzled it over, I figure that what I really need to remember is that I should go ahead and act, even if I can’t explain why I should. That could lead to some really bad decisions if you wanted to take it towards a sinister turn. Certainly for most people, it’s wise counsel to wait and analyze and compare and think things through before acting. But in my life, I would be missing out on stuff, because I take SO LONG to analyze stuff out. Exhibit A: this blog. So maybe it’s not the right advice for everyone. But it’s good Amy Advice. Act Now. Understanding Will Catch Up Later. It’s Usually God Behind It Anyway.

Then I left the labyrinth. Let’s hope I “take what you gain with you as you leave.”


RichardT said...

Lovely, lovely!
1: I love your blog and it seems to me that the "cheering section" aside (and we are), it has had a really solid influence on you and your thinking about yourself, which is way more important ultimately than the effect on the rest of us. Shut up--it is and you know it is! Ptttth!

2: Was this actually a labryinth or a really windy (as is curves, not kite-aiding weather conditions) self-enclosed path without turn choices? I ask merely because it does change the metaphor quite a bit and I'm just the snark to point it out if that's so.

3: You were brought up well. You're well educated and have smarts apart from the books. Entrust in your gut and you will never go wrong. And if by some chance you do, trust you will find your way back and ahead. Act away, say I! You have God-given friends and family to keep you honest. One of the three will nudge if necessary.

Danielle said...

I'm so glad you finally decided to share your blog, Amy. :) For one, I can't stop frickin laughing (you know, at the funny parts) and two, I get you. I feel like I've had so many of the same thoughts... your candor is liberating. Thanks for sharing.

Carlen said...

"Act now and understanding will catch up later." Brilliant! I'm doing that now, I think (I hope?) I just stumbled onto this entry, so I will read more - Danielle is your new biggest fan!
P.S. I think we probably have a lot in common. :)