“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
― Gary Snyder
From our youngest days, so many prescriptions are offered for life.
Do this, don't do that.
Go there, not somewhere else.
Get this job, not that one.
You don't always listen (if at all), but you hope, if you follow a well-worn path, you too might enjoy the same or a similar life.
I'd like to say that that was what it was like for me: a steady, guiding hand, making sure I didn't make too many wrong turns.
But it wasn't.
It was an unholy mess.
I wasted great gobs of my life pursuing first one blind alley and then another.
On one level, that's no more than anyone should expect. To make a few wrong turns in order to finally arrive at our chosen destination.
That's life, right?
Surely, though, it's not wrong to expect (who expects this might be a better question?) that, at some stage, you'll no longer have to keep running at full gas and the promised land will deliver all its promise?
Again, I can only talk from personal experience, but I still don't feel that's the case.
I'm making do — at best.
A heady mix of things: fear, ennui, solemnity, my age and resigned acceptance.
But does it matter?
Does any of it matter?
On one level, of course it does. I only get one shot at this. On another level, who said that I wouldn't always feel that I'm living with a phantom twin who's constantly restless, out of tune with my extant reality?
The thing is, if lockdown and all its limitations have shown me anything, it's that I've previously set the bar way too high. Outside of paid work (law) — I'm starting to get busy again — I realise I need very little in my life to be content, not in a delirious sense but a solid, foundational one. I mean, even reading a book without feeling the tug to do has been revelatory. Likewise, having the time to spend with my youngest daughter has been so meaningful and enriching. And of course, spending much more time exploring where I live.
The takeaway for me?
Sit with everything that's arising — including, sometimes, the overwhelming sense of lack — and it will pass. My natural disposition will then return, namely, one which is at peace most of the time.
Better still, take courage from being here and able to enjoy life — all of it — and drop the pretence, and it is largely that, that somewhere out there there exists something better, something more enlivening.
Even if that doesn't feel exactly on point, if I can bring myself back to the present moment, I'll understand that this is all we've got, all we'll ever have and for me to enjoy that fully, means not chasing another will-o'-the-wisp fantasy.
Take care. Enjoy your day.
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