Further, she had been the right person to ask. I didn't feel attacked or defensive. I felt grateful. I knew what the problem was! I could do something about it! I didn’t have to fix it or cut it out. That would be impossible. The burning energy that was my flaw was also my strength. It motivated me. It rode me into doing the impossible sometimes, by brute panic, fire and force. It was part of me. But if I could just find a way to control and guide it with yoga, meditation or something else, I would discover later, my days could be different, bigger, richer.

Not perfect, of course. We all have plenty of other smaller qualities that get in our way, not to mention the unexpected, catastrophic events that derail us, ones we have no control over. And yet, a few weeks after having gone on my quest, I felt a small, blinky, newborn sense of direction. I had a way to shape and influence my days. I explained to a few friends over dinner what I'd done. They looked at me as if I was nutso, their mouths agape. My old college roommate said, "Boy, I'd love to know what my flaw is." I looked at her and said in very quiet voice, "If you really mean it, you can call me."

She never did, and I understand. There are so many things that I, too, want to know and want not to know: Who is monitoring our nation’s nuclear plants, what exactly went on in my parents long-over marriage, what is the white liquid stuff that so isn’t milk that goes into soft-serve ice cream? These kind of questions, like the flaw one, are scary, not due to the information we might find out, but because of the choice we face once we know the answer: To change or not change. This is why they come up again and again, waiting for that opportunity when—due to a confluence of past experiences, plus some recent wackadoo dash of fate—we're not only ready to address them, but we actually pursue them wherever they lead us, which is almost always into a place of newfound possibility.

Leigh Newman is the Deputy Editor for and author of the memoir Still Points North. You can reach her on Twitter at @leighnew.

More from Leigh Newman


Next Story