We were sitting on a porch swing in Central Texas. Two days ago, we had no idea that the other existed, she a well-known Talmud scholar and I a first year seminary student. Having spent a good portion of the past two days talking about our faith traditions and how we encounter and interact with God in prayer, we skipped over the traditional small talk of getting to know someone. Our retreat and conference were wrapping up, and we were talking about the direction of our lives, one fully settled in LA with family and career, the other with three visible moves (and states) in the upcoming year.
Bemoaning the lack of my roots and the desire to fully settle into a place, I asked if she wished that she had moved more, traveled, seen and gotten to know more people. After a period of contemplative silence (you can always tell if someone is truly considering your question if it takes them a moment to answer), she responded that she did wish she had, while at the same time being completely at peace and fulfilled in her life.
We sat and swung for another period of silence as I contemplated her answer and she contemplated her life so far. Then shifting the tables, as all great teachers do, she said, “You know, though, you can’t live a life you don’t imagine”; she now contemplating her answer and I now contemplating my life to come.
You can’t live a life you don’t imagine. This simple statement has haunted me in the best of ways since that porch swing conversation with a professor from a Rabbinical school and it probably will echo throughout much of my life. Living my life with imagination is hard for this inside-the-box thinker, but if ever there was a time for creativity, it’s now.