Back in January, when I was imagining this summer, I thought it was going to be an unqualified success.
I imagined I would finish my work with Owosso Main Street on July 1st (right on time) and seamlessly pass leadership to my perfectly qualified, prepared, and enthusiastic successor. I imagined the Owosso Fellowship would be a celebration of my past two years of research and thought. I would welcome the fellows to Owosso and immediately pass along all my earthly wisdom. In ten short weeks I would prepare them for a lifetime of community and creativity. They would discover their truest, deepest creative passions and learn every lesson required for them to build their lives around those passions. In August I would complete the Owosso Fellowship and begin a ten week sabbatical. Ten weeks to travel, visit Bjorn, find an apartment in Detroit, get myself moved in and find a job in a trendy and beautiful restaurant. By November I would be in a more or less constant state of ectasy, having moved to a great American city with my best friend in the world to do the work that we are called to.
Well, spoiler alert. The reality turned out a little differently.
Go figure: the past four months of my life contained a lot of struggle. A lot of beauty and a lot of struggle.
Hiring a new manager proved to be a time consuming and difficult task, and the full transition to new leadership didn't happen until August 15th, 45 days after the original deadline. The manager we hired, though, is the perfect person for the job. I could not be happier with our new leadership.
That seamless transfer of wisdom and values I imagined? Well, it turned out to be a little more complicated. It turns out that believing and teaching are two different skills sets, and I had a lot to learn about teaching. In the end I think they did learn a lot of what I set out to teach, and I'm confident that they're experience this summer did substantially contribute to their ability to build a life on their creative passion.
And moving in with Bjorn? Surprise, surprise, that turned out to be something a little more complex that the closing scene of Cinderalla might suggest to a little blond haired girl like me. Friendship takes work under any circumstance, and the circumstance of being roommates can be kind of a bitch. I love living with Bjorn and yes, it takes work and yes, there has been struggle.
Our consumer culture has trained us to imagine that are lives will be “good” when they are easy, when they are effortless and beautiful and prosperous and spotless and perfect.
We expect that from our lives, and that's what we aim to build. When we fail to build it, we do our best to convince our friends and family that we've succeeded. We post only the most glamorous photos, tell only the funniest and wittiest stories. Our homes are clean, and so are our relationships. We are winning.
I do this everyday.
I've spent the last two years taking apart our consumer culture and putting in back together again, and it still owns me.
I take the thing apart, tinker with it, read about it, write about it, and then promptly put it right back together again.
I put this murderous robot back together again, and it effortlessly choke holds me.
It has me by the throat and I am back at the start.
I want the easy perfect life.
I perceive struggle as failure.
I want to win; I must win.