Malibu Static

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Two weeks ago Eric and I took a whirlwind tour of California. After flying into LAX late on a Tuesday night, we managed an In-n-Out Cheeseburger stop before cruising to the central San Joaquin Valley. Our three day excursion took us from L.A. to Porterville to Cambria, sleeping in the same hotel we occupied for an evening while honeymooning 23 years ago. And Cambria back to L.A. via the scenic, beach hugging Pacific Coast Highway.

Driving south we traveled the ocean bluffs near San Luis Obispo and Morrow Bay, with beer and lunch in the Dutch village of Solvang. We witnessed the consequences of severe drought, the dry and bare hillsides of Santa Barbara, PCH ushering us to the money-laden, disaster-threatened mountains of Malibu. Struck by the beauty of our native state, we trekked along playing our favorite game, imagining how our lives would look, answering the questions of where the kids would go to school, how we could make a living while also trying to fathom how the masses cobble together enough money to craft a living, where real estate hovers far above the one-million dollar mark for a modest family home.

The Hyundai’s radio was fine, providing enough amps for our iTunes library to be palatable. As we approached Malibu I tuned into NPR, discovering the mismatch between coastal topography and suitable radio reception. Winding the narrow highway through scatters of mansions and storefronts, canyons and curves did not bode well for our listening pleasure. The station hard to track, required I surf for another.

I found the next station and the next, and the next once the static became too unbearable. I think I discovered four different NPR’s.

My personal calling, like the Malibu coastline, is shifting. My desires are changing, my goals deviating from the person I was a decade ago. What once appealed to me no longer does. What I once pursued holds little value. This transition is welcome, yet I’m left with this old station, these old messages from my former self. These shoulds bid for my attention, while I know they are no longer part of who I am or want to be, they continue to beckon and make empty promises.

I have to change the station. I have to stop, re-evaluate, and challenge these tapes. I imagined this seamless transition, where my former callings would fade with instantaneous ease, while the new would blossom and grow fruit with effortless grace. Instead I am left with the weird, lurching sensation, where one moment I’m solid and secure in my present path, and the next…well…I’m not. One moment I’m living into my future, the next I’m stuck in the past. Push and pull. Back and forth.

We ushered in spring break with a long visit to our mountain cabin this past weekend. I could not settle into stillness and rest.  Oftentimes I find great peace, the scenery and mountain life spurring my senses, inspiring ideas. But I was stuck, overwhelmed by the former longings, the past nudges. The solitude and space  conspired against me to unearth the final vestiges of these departed dreams. The messages of shame tempting and coaxing my return to the old me, the old call, clamoring for attention and resurrection.

This work is a process, one where the new path must be given priority and value, while the former recedes. Instead of waiting for the static to clear, remaining on the defunct channel, my work is to change the station. This is an important choice, for if I live splitting the difference I live ineffectual, depthless in both.

Never are these transitions perfect and seamless. Never are they without grief, as we surrender the old and embrace the new. The joints are harsh and imperfect – yet, somehow the final product is this remarkable tapestry of a well lived life. A portrait of beauty, a legacy, forged from the heat of these tenuous times.

I wish it was easier and different for me. I wish I could gaze forward without a backward glance, but this is impossible. The process with the starts and stops and pushes and pulls mold us into our becoming. I want to withstand the shifting landscape. I want a solid and sure foundation, built on strength and honesty and surrender.

As one station fades and another becomes clear, as one call vanishes and the other prevails I can rest in the knowledge and truth that I am loved without condition, my proof never needed, my purchase solid in hope.