I used to think I’d be “done” at a certain point. If I just hit a few milestones and managed to make good choices, if I just had a small amount of luck, then the changing and shifting and sometimes agonizing uncertainty of it all would cease, then I could just live out my happy ending. The milestones looked like graduating from a good college, finding something to do with my time that was fulfilling and would also sustain me, meeting the right person and having a family. I figured if I managed to do any or all of that, then I’d be happy and my life would really begin.
I had all these flailing questions about what I was doing here, what we were all doing here, what the point might be, what happened after this. I wanted stability, something I could count on, so I met many of those milestones, and I realized I wasn’t done, I was still in process, still changing and growing and learning and screwing things up, and sometimes surprising myself with clarity. I had been so focused on this future that was waiting for me if I could just get it right, I had been missing my present. Joy lives in the current moment. So does gratitude and love and every other great feeling we long to have.
Human beings are never done. Life is always there to offer opportunities to grow or grieve, to expand or close, to begin again. Whatever has happened in your past is behind you. It may have changed you, affected you, shaped you, but it does not have to define you, or dictate the way your story unfolds. Life is not just happening to us, we get to co-create it; we get to decide how we’ll respond to what it is that we’re given. There’s a lot of power in that. Your particular story will not be over, you will not be “done” until you exhale for the final time, and maybe you won’t be done then, either; none of us will know for sure until we get there.
What we do have is now. So many people get caught in this trap of thinking life begins when happiness is achieved, and that all depends on external factors. I’ll be happy when I have a great job or I live in a big house, or I drive a fast car. I’ll be happy when I meet the right person, or lose ten pounds. I’ll be happy when I have kids. In the meantime, in my misery and feelings of craving and longing, I have to work toward those goals, even if they feel way out there somewhere, and the path between here and there isn’t clear. How could it be? When you’re so focused on things out in front of you, you’re missing all the wisdom that’s within you. If your mind is full of lists and places you need to be and things you need to do, it’s very hard to hear the quiet, abiding voice of your own intuition. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have goals or intentions. It’s good to know what you’re trying to do with your life, and what you want to offer, but that’s different than chasing brass rings other people tell you you’re supposed to want.
Getting quiet is the key to knowing yourself. It’s incredibly simple, but it isn’t easy. So many people have fear about stopping, breathing, tuning in. Maybe the path you’re on isn’t the one that feels right for you. Maybe it’s a path you chose to please other people, maybe you chose it because it seemed like the one you should want. The most common regret of people who are dying is that they didn’t live their life in alignment with what was true for them. Sometimes people feel trapped or paralyzed, like they’ve walked too far down a particular road to stop now. You can always stop and turn around, you can always change direction if the way ahead feels like a slow death. Since you’re never going to be done, why not start over at any time? Co-create a new story, take a path that doesn’t make sense to anyone but you, because ultimately, that’s your job.
I’m not saying it’s okay to do whatever you want without thinking about how your actions affect other people. I’m saying, at the center of it all, your heart longs to be free to expand and if you find yourself in a state of compression or brokenness, if you find it’s hard to breathe or to move or to find a way that feels right or good, it’s time to speak out. It’s time to ask for help if you need it. It’s time to be honest about how you feel and where you’re at; to confront your fears head on. No one can blame you for what you feel in your heart. People around you may wish you felt differently, but no one can fault you for being human, and as such, vulnerable.
We get a limited amount of time in the bodies we’re in, with the life we’re living. I’m pretty positive at this point we’re here to love: to feel it, to spread it, to move with it. To connect and share and lend a hand or an ear or a shoulder or whatever you’ve got. You really can’t do that if you’ve taken so many twists and turns you’ve become lost to yourself. That’s the darkest, loneliest thing in the world — to be a stranger to your own heart. It’s never too late to plant a tree. A sprout on a branch is the beginning of something beautiful. Trees planted in love blossom pretty quickly.
Sending you love,
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