For years now I've been on a bit of a quest for the meaning of life. My belief was that we all have a purpose. And that I would feel much more fulfilled if only I figure out what my purpose is. It has been a painful and frustrating journey in ways. Like the answer is behind a door and I have a set of keys to get through. But each time I try one it doesn't work. And then I lose track of where I am in the sequence of keys and I end up right where I started. Totally confused.
After my mother passed my father said to me "Chantelle, we are all just spectators". At the time I didn't quite grasp the significance.
But I think now I'm now starting to understand.
Being somewhat anxious I fear the unknown. I'm always looking five steps in-front, trying to control everything, and seem to be on a never-ending search of the "Something Else", as Sarah Wilson puts it perfectly in her book First, we make the beast beautiful: A new story about anxiety. Something else will be the answer. It will bring me closer to my purpose. And I will then understand the true meaning of life. And feel pure happiness. Mental exhaustion right there.
But (thankfully) I think I've had it all wrong.
I recently read Beyond Happiness by Anthony Seldon, along with the aforementioned book First, we make the beast beautiful. Both interesting books that were like a smack-in-the-face realisation about life.
And here are where my thoughts are.
It's not until we fully comprehend the fact that life is finite, and we accept it, that we truly feel freedom from the constant chase of the unknown. From the never-ending search for the something else. We realise that we are a part of something greater. Something uncontrollable. Something beyond our understanding. Put simply, and as my father said, we are just spectators.
When I really began to understand this, I felt lighter. A pressure shift from within. And as Sarah Wilson said "The exhausting outward chase can stop. It's all here. Right here. No need to run anymore. We let go; we join the flow of life. It makes sense; we belong".
My husband has been saying for years in response to my angst about finding my purpose that "There is no one thing, no purpose". Finally I hear those words. And in way I'm holding up my flag to surrender to life. Allowing it to run its natural course. Putting my all in for a meaningful journey, but also sitting back to enjoy the ride. Bumpy patches and all.
I'm choosing (and it will take practice) to focus more on the now. Like right now I feel like this is what I need to do. It may change in one year's time. And that's ok.
I think of this in relation to being a child. As a young child we have no concept of what the future is. We live in the moment. Play for as long as our interest allows without worrying about what to do next. Cry immediately when hunger or thirst strikes. Or when we need sleep.
And then as we age we complicate and question everything. We become future focussed. We study for what we think we will do 10 years down the road. Then work for the big house and multiple cars that we will one day buy. We save for retirement many many years down the road. While having a roof over our heads and being able to feed of families is a valid concern, it's the mental anguish of constantly looking forward that consumes us in this period of our lives.
And then (if fate allows) we reach those last few years of a long journey. I wonder if that's when we again begin to live in the moment. When the awareness that 'well, that was it' sets in. And we can then at last relax and stop grasping for answers. Stop searching for meaning. For the something else. And assent to life in its pure simplicity.
So I guess that leaves us with - what can we do right now? Like in this moment, that will awaken us. That will illuminate, inspire and show kindness to the lives of those around us. And in essence, help us feel content. We forget about the something else. And simply focus on the something that is.