Last year about this time I took a little road trip. Just me and my dog, wandering around the Northwest Coast, looking for… well, I’m still not really sure what I was looking for, but something in me said I’d find it in the Redwoods or the ocean. So we headed west.
I learned a lot of things on that trip; I learned that topography makes a BIG difference in the amount of time it will take you to get from A to B. I learned that not talking to another person for a couple days in a row makes ‘crazy’ come out of my mouth when I finally do. I learned that I can sleep in my car, with my dog and all of my gear, but it isn’t comfy.
One of the most profound things I learned though, was that I had somehow become a ‘doing’.
For the past decade I have been on an eternal, internal quest… a journey further and further into myself to find the deep center of who I really am as a spirit being, and discover the joy and freedom of living my life as perfectly and authentically ‘soul-self-me’ as I possibly can. It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve loved the journey.
And until that little trip last summer, I really thought I’d found my peace. I had gotten to the point where I LOVED to be alone, I loved to travel and adventure alone, listening to the world around me and somehow also listening to the Universe, hearing messages that got me to ever deeper and more beautiful places in my spirit, in my soul. I had learned to love myself, love the part I played in the unfathomable eternity of life. I also thought I had learned to be still, and love it. I mean, after all… I meditated. Regularly.
Travel has a way of encouraging you to see things from a different perspective. Solitary travel does the same thing, and then takes it one step further. It encourages you to see yourself from a different perspective. As it turns out, actually being – being still, being silent, being aware – was waaaaaaay harder out in the world than it was on my meditation cushion. I was shocked by the realization that I literally had no idea what I would do with my time. None. I’d already done all the things I normally do with my time; I’d hiked, read for hours, had dinner, fed my pooch, sat on the shores of the lake… and it was only 4 o’clock. (Yes, that means I ate dinner early. REALLY early. Like I said, I was out of things to do.)
Even when I remembered that there was a point in my life when I dreamed of retirement (Yes, I was probably only 25 at the time. I don’t know why. Just roll with me on this.); sitting on the porch, watching people, alone with my thoughts, dreaming of the next trip I’d take or whether my friends might want to come over for a very early dinner… but out in the woods of Montana, I couldn’t relax into it. I was anxious. Anxious to be on the move, to get to the next thing.
I realized then that this constant focus on some far away future has been a theme of my life. One I’ve used quite successfully to overcome – and in some cases all together avoid – pain, confrontation, fear.
But the other day, I had that same kind of anxiety, that same emotional itchy feeling I have had so often in my life, except that I didn’t have anything else to focus on. There was no impending trip, no coming social engagement, I had gotten plenty of exercise, I had a full week of meetings and appointments coming. I didn’t even have any foreseeable conflicts or major challenges to worry on.
And then I realized it. As much as I am an advocate of occasionally doing to get to being, the experience of human life must be felt. This is our gift, this life, with all it’s ups and downs. THE big purpose – in my opinion anyway – is to see it as that and love living. That means loving the ‘low’ spots too… the hurt, the fear, the loneliness, the sadness, all of it. It means loving the chance to feel those things – and then let them go.
A year later, I finally get it. I need to be still and feel. Not just re-direct my thoughts to manifesting a change that will make ‘it’ better, or focusing on the good things coming, or distracting myself with a full calendar and long to-do lists… but just sit and feel. It’s time to be present with my present; my life.