A little over one year ago, I headed east on Interstate 10 from South Pasadena, California in a car loaded with nearly everything I owned and made my way to Tempe, Arizona. Driving through the beautiful red desert landscape, one question came to mind: What was in Arizona?
Both literally and figuratively, I wondered about the adventure that lay ahead. A few months earlier, I had graduated from law school and much to the puzzlement of many family members I refused to embark on the traditional legal practice route. Instead, I explained in the best way I knew how, I would begin a Ph.D. program in history which will hopefully allow me to pursue my newfound ambition: aspiring teacher.
The school year went by and there was no clear answer to the question. And then came the summer.
That first week of teaching was profoundly life-changing. I was up at four or five in the morning everyday too enamored with the prospect of going to class to fall back asleep. It was a feeling of indescribable excitement where a purportedly rational mind vacillated between complete acceptance of an uncontrollable state of being and a rather somber realization that none of it might actually be real. It was a feeling where imagination became a cruel foe, preventing the mind from sorting through what is real and that which is pretend.
It was a feeling of waking up in the middle of the night because my heart started talking without prompting. And its rhythm beat a song that was unfamiliar. Unfamiliar because of its newness. Unfamiliar because it had never happened before. It was a feeling that was comforting and exciting. But it was also a feeling that was terrifying. My mind pondered its imaginary nature. My mind feared its temporary existence. My mind dreaded its inability to reoccur.
After all, never had I experienced such a thrill in anything I had ever done. I began to take comfort in knowing that I had finally found not just a job or career but a vocation, a calling. And just as my heart settled into this newfound routine of expecting this feeling whenever I walked into class in the morning, it happened again. This time for a few days. This time later in the summer. This time in a confused daze.
I don't know what happened the second time. I may be able to identify various factors that may have played a part. But I don't know for sure. I suppose I cannot know for a while. Writing this has been my way of accepting that uncertainty. All that is clear is that it felt like the first time. Maybe the answers will forever be elusive. After all, none of us can really know how the story ends. As with most things, it's probably best to let time reveal. What I may be able to know with some certainty is that the second time the heart played the unfamiliar song, it was not about teaching.
This summer provided me with a guess as to the question I had nearly one year ago: What was in Arizona?
It turns out, an unfamiliar song.