Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mindfulness & Changing Desires

It's crazy what a year can do for your life. 

I think this past year I felt every emotion possible: high ones, low ones; the best ones and the most heartbreaking ones; hopeful ones and painfully (but somehow, beautifully) nostalgic ones, if that makes any sense. I spent so much time in nature that I couldn't help but get connected to the unshakable sense of peace that comes from quietness, stillness, and the absence of noise and commotion. 

I also spent so much time saying goodbye to things, experiences, and people (and even certain inner hopes, thoughts, or expectations, sometimes the hardest thing of all), because this season of my life has been marked by so much change. Being nomadic, moving around, changing places, and with all that comes challenges. Growth is always hard. 
Seasons of pushing through the soil aren't easy. I knew when I moved to Colorado (it'll be a year ago at the end of this month) that there was a chance (okay, a certainty) that a lot of the comfort of life would be shifted around, dislodged, and redefined. I just didn't know in what ways, because, well, you can't know the future. As you choose to live life as a journey- not just a plodding toward a destination- life becomes different.

I don't mean 'comfort' as in just a change of familiar places, faces, or patterns of every day life- although there certainly was that- but I mean more 'comfort' as in a sense of what your life is. A consistency of action, of daily life. When you're comfortable- in a pattern, a routine, a familiar day-to-day existence; maybe one you've had for a few years, or even a few decades, where what you're going to get up and do with your day is more or less known to you- there's a consistency that can feel good.

But if you stay there too long, it can also feel complacent. Old. Stagnant. Stale. Feelings creep in that life has more to offer that you're missing out on because you won't move, because you're not quite at the point where you can see that the beauty of what's ahead in the journey is better than just plodding toward a self-assigned, safe destination.
So I learned this year that it's a give and a take. My heart, at least, craves balance: I love being on the road, in nature; wanderlusting and traveling and seeing. There was a feeling that came over me this year that I think I've been waiting (and working) my whole life to feel: the same deep, deep peace in every place. Nothing was comfortable, but everywhere was home. Nothing was missing.

To make the choice to hurl yourself from the known into the unknown is a risk, but I've also learned something really beautiful through that: you have a 100% success rate. Because if you see life as a journey, as something you have to participate in, and learn through, and grow through to keep going, your focus will be on the things you do every day. You're taking inventory of your life every day, right where you are- not chasing after something 'else,' something 'next.' 

You're not trying to move forward, but in taking care of the small moments of your life, you somehow wind up moving.
There were plenty of times in my life earlier this year where the thought, 'what will I do next with my life?' terrified me, honestly. 

But I've been realizing: it terrifies everyone. Whether you have a secure and steady job and 'enough' money, or you're a traveler with monetarily very little to your name or something else all together, we all wonder. I think this reveals a lot about human nature: we are, all of us, seeking. If not obviously, then in the more subtle ways we spend our time, looking for some joy or contentment. That's a very telling thing.

So you have to ask yourself whether, given the fact that we're all looking for something more- will I be someone who finds it in material or literal things, successes like careers or money making or how comfortable I can make my life? In things like the image of 'success,' or working toward retirement, or having 'enough' money; catching a 'lucky break,' or meeting the 'right person,' or landing a 'better' job... 
Or will I be someone who finds it in some deeper quality of my life: in a sense of purpose and servitude, somehow; in a sense of deepening my understanding of the world, and of who I am? I don't mean that in any terribly profound way, just to point out what we think is ultimately important. And I don't mean that certain kinds of people look exclusively at the former concerns and some look exclusively at the latter. 

There can be a balance. And as our inner world really changes, our desires change too. There are things I (maybe subconsciously) thought I wanted years ago that now I not only don't really care about, but really actively don't want at all. Things I once thought added value to my life, that are really not important at all. It's funny how as your inner world evolves- as you change- your external life really does propel itself. 

What it looks like you are becoming in the eyes of other people is suddenly not of any concern, and actually what you are becoming even in your own eyes can hardly be taken as truth- I think that's a beautiful thing to learn too. We don't always know how we're being worked on or evolved, and we have to allow it, even when we can't see it. Sometimes the process hurts. Sometimes it's confusing. Most of the time it's uncomfortable. But all of the time, as long as we realize the journey keeps going, it is good.

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