a slice of cake

When you hear the word “path”, what image comes to mind?  Is it a beaten dirt track with grass on either side, or is it something more metaphorical? If it’s the latter, what idea does it evoke? Something plodding and quotidian? Or something leading to unexpected delights?

I’ve always tried to make sense of what my own path is. It just never seemed clear to me what I was meant to do. Not in the way that some people know from a young age what careers they want. No career I’ve considered ever had the “’Goldilocks effect’ – like it could be just right. My chosen career path feels like a borrowed sweater, something that I constantly pull at and adjust because the fit just isn’t right. Maybe knowing when something is right is a lot harder than identifying when something isn’t.

We often question whether something is perfect, but we know straight away when it’s not.

Not so long ago, I watched a film on Netflix called My Happy Family. It’s Georgian – the country, not the state. It’s about a woman who liberates herself from her family. She’s an introvert, surrounded by people who don’t see her, don’t recognize who she is. She drowns under them. All she wants is solitude, to be away from the noise and constant besiegement of her family.

So, she takes this solitude for herself.

Without telling anyone, she rents an apartment and moves in – without her family knowing! When she eventually tells them, it’s as if she’s become an alien being. They don’t know what to do with her. Is she being abused by her husband? Is this what prompts this insanity? They badger her, guilt her. But while she wavers a bit, like a tightrope walker losing focus for a moment, she stays. Her apartment is old, and not beautifully furnished but is oh-so lovely. She makes it hers. And in this apartment she plays guitar and sings quietly to herself. And eats large slices of cake.
Because she wants to.
Because she can.

She dares to step off the path. Her reward is simply herself.

Another movie I love is an animated French film called Louise By the Shore. The French title has no bearing on the English one. Louise en Hiver – Louise in Winter. 

In the winter of her life, Louise visits a seaside town in France to enjoy the warmth of summer. The season draws to a close and everyone leaves on the last train out of the town. Everyone but her. Alone in this deserted seaside town, this elderly woman faces these challenges with such joie de vivre it makes me envious. Louise is no longer in her winter; in many ways, she’s in her springtime. Her solitude isn’t sad but winsome and robust with learning new things and freeing herself in a way that we can only hope to before we ourselves enter the winter of our lives.

I know a woman who was a lawyer in China. She’s smart and gentle with a streak of determination that’s bright and shiny. One night, in China, she was walking home after working her typical eleven hour day.  Exhausted, she decided something had to change or she’d lose herself and her family. The following day, she tendered her resignation.  Not long after, she was sitting in the front row in my class improving her English. One semester after that, she’s registered for classes towards her Master’s in Business; she just started her third semester. Think about that for a moment! Deciding to do a Masters in a foreign country, in a second language with a young child and husband. How brave you have to be to give up everything and start anew!

Maybe we ought to learn to feel an untenable situation as a blessing instead of a burden.

I’ve been thinking more and more about what I want for myself, what I want to do with my life. And so, I too wonder if it’s time to step off the path. It’s terrifying –  fraught with uncertainly. No certainty of a paycheck, no assurance of insurance. But perhaps freedom will taste like a slice of cake – rich, sweet and deeply satisfying.

So, what do these three women have in common? Is it that they forged a new path? Absolutely! But it more than that! It’s that they embraced the possibility that there could be more than what their previous lives determined they were.

All three reached for dessert plates and found each held thick slices of cake.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Ausiya says:

    Lissy, I really enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for sharing it with us. I wish you courage in finding your path.
    Your posting very much reminded me of a line in a movie I just re-watched a clip of, and love the quote. I liked it so much that I wrote it down to reread, and reflect upon. The movie is Avengers End Game, and the quote is-

    Frigga: Everyone fails at who they are supposed to be, Thor. The measure of a person, of a hero… is how well they succeed at being who they are.

    So many times in life we wear different hats and we are different things to different people, and we are swayed by expectations, and try to live our lives by what is expected.
    In the examples of the 3 movies you mentioned, those women were very successful at doing the unexpected, and following their inner voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hessaun says:

    This is utterly lovely .,

    Every day I think about the paths ( in my own life ) not taken , and a sense of sadness settles in .

    Thank you for this beautiful writing . It is in equal measure brave and inspiring .

    Made me hopeful that if someday I could summon the courage to do the things I dare only dream of, it might be as lovely and as luscious as cake .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. vanessa fox says:

    This made me cry. This is what I want. I feel guilty for even thinking that I want to be alone, scared to say it, as if the universe will hear it and remove the things dear to me,but everything that those women did makes perfect sense and really, all that we …All that I need, is the basic guts to forge my own path and not be afraid of the crossroads.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your writing and very enjoyable. Reading your writing likes to talk to an old friend with some tea or a slice of cake. Today, Tampa is a rainy day. This weather always makes me think a lot. Fortunately, there is your writing. I plan to make a cup of tea. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amna Mohamed says:

    I like the post a lot.
    Of the three examples, only one is from real life and it is the perfect example of the whole point of the blog.
    But as we know, art very often imitates life, so the two movies do help to make your point as well.
    Is there any person you know who doesn’t want to have a slice of the cake?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Stephan says:

    This is so introspective and thought evoking. We all at sometime question what we do but seldom have the courage to reach for that slice of cake. Fear of uncertainty and our ability to adapt and adjust can be so paralyzing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. S says:

    Bravo bravo 👏🏾 its an awesome start and and awesome statement.

    Liked by 1 person

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