What are you looking for? What do you want? If you don’t know, how will you know when you have it?
This was a problem faced after eating a mushroom in Amsterdam. We were walking around aimlessly. We didn’t know what we were looking for! My friend through up her arms, “How are we going to get anywhere if we don’t know where we want to go?!”
A bridge pose wasn’t much of a solution…
I think I’ve been facing a similar problem with my life: how do bridge toward a future without knowing where that future lies? How am I going to get anywhere, if I don’t know where I want to go?
Be it in decisions of travel, career, or love, in the past I have known what I want after I get it. When from out of nowhere I get a strong feeling that something is just “right”. When my mind can’t think of anything else. When my fingers can’t help but pick up a pen and write. When I make a spare-of-the moment decision, buy a plane ticket and everything works out perfectly.
Some decisions feel like they have been made by some version of Self that is outside myself. I can not not do that thing, make that decision, spend time with that person. That’s how I know it’s what I want. I just know.
But what happens when you find yourself in the middle-land? What should you do when your “intuition”, your “higher self”, or your “God” seems to have abandoned you?
There are times in life where one’s intuition doesn’t seem to speak up. Times when everything seems to go wrong. Times where you can’t see your options, times when there seem to be too many. Times when you are confused. Times when you really don’t know what you are looking for. Then what?
Maybe it’s at times like this we need to take our mind back a few steps:
- Can you trace your steps backward, like when you lose your keys, and find your “self” again?
- When was the last time you felt you knew? How did you get from there to the place you are now?
- Could you be in the place you are in order to learn something? What’s the lesson?
- Is it time to try something new?
- If you’re not happy now is there anything you can change to bring back your happy place?
There are things we have control over, and there are things we don’t. The more aware we are of these, the more chance we have of creating for ourselves the reality we want.
The Footprints poem tells a mythical story of a man walking on the beach looking back at his life in footsteps on the sand. Most of the time there are two sets – his, and “God”s. In the man’s hardest times there is only one set of feet. “God” seems to have abandoned him.
My trip around Europe, peaking with my accident in Greece, left me feeling this way. I was questioning EVERYTHING. I was ready to go back to Sydney. I wanted to be surrounded by my family and friends. I realized how much I missed them. I realized how important they are to my life. I realized how great my life is back in Sydney: my little apartment, the coffee-shops, the beach, ease-of-life. I wanted to go home.
I pushed on with my journey. Arriving in the US I was sick to my stomach with feelings of uncertainty. I was more homesick than I’ve ever been.
“What am I doing with my life?” I kept asking myself. Sure I’m doing a PhD. But why? Do you want to teach? Or do you want to write? Do you want to make money? Or do you want to have a family? Do you want to keep traveling? What’s the point in my doing the things I am doing? Are they taking me where I want to go? Or should I just go home? If I do go home, what will I do when I get there?
A friend of mine recommended I sit down and write at the top of a piece of paper “What is the purpose of Juliet?” Then write everything that comes into my head. “When you break down and cry, you know you have hit something.”
I hit that point pretty quick. This exercise, along with time, and seeing the healing of my physical wounds, has helped my mind return to a more normal place.
Though I don’t know what my next step will be – how long I’ll stay in the US, or where I’ll go next, or when I’ll go home – but I have returned to feeling comfortable with that.
The uncertainty is exciting. An unknown future means anything is possible.
The Footprints poem concludes with “God” saying, “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
It’s a message of faith: of letting go, of acceptance, and trust. Pay attention to everything that is going on around you. Be limber. Be flexible. Open your eyes. Open your mind to options and ideas that you never thought of. Sleep, eat, exercise, meditate. Be merry. We don’t always need to know exactly where we are going.
Maybe it’s times that we feel the most lost and confused that we need to have the most faith. I’m not talking about faith that people think of means believing in a supernatural religious God. But faith in the bigger story we are a part of. Faith that everything going on in our smaller stories will turn out ok. Faith that comes with understanding that in time we will lose some battles, win others, have an apotheosis, discover the ultimate boon, and return to oneness that we first left. Faith that as we continue on our journey, the energy of the universe (call it God or the Great Storyteller or any other name) will carry us to ever-new horizons.
One of those horizons for me … finish editing my book.