Wandering through Wonderland

Time. The word ticks and tocks loudly in my mind as I look back on my 32 years. I can see the chances I wasted from fear-based reasoning and opportunities never given despite my best intentions. I mourn the talents that never blossomed into full potential and the dreams I squashed because of other’s preconceived notions of who I should be. The memories make my heart burn in anger, simmer in sadness, and wallow in pointless yearning. I create a deeply rooted sense of urgency to not waste more time.

Time. We have an Alice and White Rabbit relationship, Time and I. Somewhere in my story, I became the White Rabbit, rushing and crying that I didn’t have enough time. I have always been scared that I would arrive late at an unknown destination in my life and miss something life-altering and essential.

Time. It has become the Alice in my life. It wanders about with curiosity, inviting me to explore and risk new areas of triumph and failure. Time asks me to believe in impossible things. Stubbornly, my heart takes this as an invitation of mockery. My body fills with shame as I remember all the things I slowed down to become curious about. Instead of simply savoring the wonder, I tried to make those passions a sure part of my identity.

This time I will be someone! This time I will be able to sit at the table with accomplished people and be proud!

But like most fires, the passions died out or were doused. As the smoke rose, my mind would spin at dizzying speed before collapsing into a shaking heap of tears. I began to shut down the beauty of curiosity and possibility. It was exhausting.

The truth is, I feel lost and incomplete when obsessing over who I could have become if I had only broken off the shackles of fear that held me back. Hidden under my blanket cave of security, I can feel the outline of each and every puzzle piece misplaced or missing in the chaos of my story.

Why am I hiding? What am I hiding from? 

Once again, Time asks me to rest and reconsider the moments I blindly call failure. I take a deep breath and contemplate the truth.

I’m reminded that I never stopped writing. Now I write bravely for others to read.

I’m reminded that even though I don’t own a bakery, my kitchen produces delicious cookies and cake pops and even chocolate cakes that would make Bruce Bogtrotter, from Matilda, salivate.

I am reminded that even though I didn’t have the college experience I’d hoped for, I did walk the stage and earn a diploma in something I was interested in. I am filled with hope of pursuing a degree later in something I am truly good at.

I’m reminded that all the dreaming and hoping has made me into the woman I am today.

I haven’t wasted time. In fact, I have grown and stretched with the time I’ve been given.

Growing up, I never knew which road to take, yet I somehow navigated the wonderland of my life with equal parts strength and fear.

Now, as an adult, I am still learning to explore this wonderland with curiosity and mindfulness. In doing so, I have witnessed myself being led to destinations I couldn’t have imagined and have sat with others because of who I am, not because of what I have done.

This year, I entered a new season of life, intending to be mindful of what is right in front of me. I have titled it my “Year of Possible.” I’ve surrendered my notions of what I need to do and accepted the invitation to receive nourishment for my soul wherever I am led.

I have been intentional in taking time to be curious instead of rushing into passions. I am paying attention to my dreams instead of stifling yearnings, and I’m risking the possible instead of stalling in fear of the “inevitable.” This year, my heart has sat with the time I have been given and I find myself grateful in the midst of my longing and brokenness.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”
–Lewis Carroll

Mal Arnold is a passionate Latina wife and mother who is a chaser of dreams and believes in living life with abandon. She writes to pour some of herself out for any who care to experience her heart, but is also an avid reader, lover of old movies and going on journeys with family as well. She has seen heartache and trauma in her past and is learning to let her Maker heal her broken places.