Posts Tagged ‘meaning’

It’s interesting how the wisdom of words can remain, even when your interpretation of them changes completely.

In my last post, I wrote:

Perhaps we have to realise that to be happy, we have to not only want to be happy – we have to be able to accept that happiness when it comes along, even if it feels scary and unfamiliar at first.

What if the scary thing is not the vastness or greatness of the thing that makes you happy?  What if the scary thing is the fact that what makes you happy is small and insignificant and does not make you sound grand?  What if you have been living in the happiness you refuse to accept, determined that it should be found in something that sounds ‘worthy’, that meet the outside world’s definition of success?

What if doing all the things you think will make you feel grand and worthwhile actually makes you vastly unhappy?  What if you experience the purest, most uncontaminated happiness, when you wake up in the morning and look forward to going to your job as a typist?

Maybe one of the problems is that we have a tendency to equate ‘success’ with ‘happiness’.  And we equate ‘success’ with whatever society currently defines as ‘successful’.  And so we assume that happiness will come when we have completed this degree or got that promotion or save the world in this, that, or the other way.  Maybe we get so caught up in thinking that this outwardly defined ‘success’ will bring us happiness, that we lose sight of the things that truly make us happy.

The ego loves labels.  As soon as you have shed one, it will desperately grasp at another to give itself solidity, to enable its existence.  My ego has, for a long time, been caught up in the idea that I have some ‘grand purpose’.  That not to pursue some ‘grand purpose’ is somehow a waste of myself and a cop out.  As if I am some kind of gift to freakin humanity.

What if I am just really happy with my life right now?  I work as a typist, I read, I write, I spend time with friends and indulge in much wine, laughter and conversation, I spend time with my family, I sit on my deck and look at the sea.  I wake up happy, I am happy in the solitary moments, I am happy in company, I go to bed with a smile on my face looking forward to the next day.

I don’t save lives.  I don’t fix world hunger.  I am not materially wealthy or ‘successful’ as society defines it.

I work as a typist.  And I feel like the richest person in the world.  I have everything I could ever want.  I enjoy my days.  I love my life.

I am not ‘grand’, ‘worthy’ or ‘meaningful’ as I have come to define those words.  I just am.  And I find a great amount of contentment in that.

I also wrote in the last post:

We must be willing to sit with the strength of both our fear and our desire if we wish to move forward and do something with our lives.

Maybe the key is in the first few words.  We must be willing to sit with the strength of our fear and our desire.  We must be willing to sit still long enough for both to make themselves heard.  Only then, from that place of stillness, can we make the movement most in line with our true meaning, our true Being.

Even if that movement is out the door each day to a job whose title impresses no one, but which places a spring in your step as you go.


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Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have learned that to adhere to ‘stickability’, you have to know yourself enough to know what you want to stick at.  I continue to believe that when you find your own unique place in the world, you will automatically be driven to ‘stick’ with it, to keep going even when it’s hard or unpleasant, to commit for better or worse because there is nothing else for you, because what you do is driven by who you are and who you essentially need to be.

I had been thinking about going back to Med School.  I think because my head had been going overtime and I needed an easy answer.  I need to know that my life is worth something, that it has meaning in some way, some purpose.  I think Med School seems like an easy panacea for me – it’s like  a ready-made purpose all wrapped up in social acceptability, so that I wouldn’t have to think anymore, wouldn’t have to keep asking the question – not just who but why am I?!

I came to the conclusion that going back to Med School was rather more running from the question than moving towards the answer.  Flailing about in the unknown, the blank slate of unknown purpose, I gravitated back to that which seemed a nice, neat definition for me, something to make my life make sense.

But Emily’s Quest is about living and loving the questions in the faith, hope and trust that I will somehow live my way into the answer.  And so I am going to embrace the unknown and keep asking the question into the darkness, in the faith that one day I will look around and realise I am living the answer already and always have been.

So in a way I was right about this year being about stickability, but not in the way I thought.  It’s not about sticking to an arbitrary sense of external validation and definition, but rather about sticking true to that little voice in my soul that urges me on and learning to just be with it long enough to really hear what it is saying, not trying to cover it over with easy solutions and quick-fix bandaids.

For some reason, that little voice  – that is not really a voice at all but a sense, a knowning, an urging – has been pulling me for a long time towards Australia, and in particular Sydney.  Don’t ask me why or what I even mean by that – it’s just there.

So, I am finally, finally, finally, just going to have the guts to just bloody do it.  Enough talking, enough thinking, enough questioning of motives.  I am currently in almost exactly the same situation that I have been at least two other times in my life.  I talking exactly the same right down to where I’m working and where I’m living.  There is a pattern repeating in my life and I recognise the place I am at with much familiarity.  And you know what they say about what happens if you ‘always do what you’ve always done…’

So I am making a difference choice this time.  I am (hopefully!) breaking the pattern.  How lucky I am to live in a life where I get to choose again.  The first two times I chose wrong.  So life as brought me back the exact same situation and now I get to choose again.

This time I choose the fear, I choose the excitement, I choose the small voice inside of me that won’t be drowned out, I choose the absolute unknown and the vastness of the world ahead of me, I choose to dance with the questions of life.

I am terrified.  I am excited.  I am alive!

Sydney here I come!

Sydney here I come!

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Think about this:

What is really important in life? The job you do?  Or the people you love?

Or in the words of Morrie Schwartz (and he was dying, man – dying people have this whole other perspective.  I think maybe all our lives would be better if we realised that we are all dying):

So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
~ Morrie Schwartz

Maybe life is more about who we are than what we do.  About who we spend it with and how we share ourselves.

I had a life, elsewhere, that sounded successful and meaningful.  I got good grades and was doing something society reveres as altruistic and significant.  I hated it.

I’m am happier right now – jobless and directionless in my Mum’s lounge in my favourite city with the people I love and who love me – than I have been in a long, long time.  If I could spend my life here, in the city I love with the people I love, it really barely even matters what I do with my day.

Or finally, in the words of one of my favourite pieces of writing:

What if you could be more present and open-hearted with each person you encounter working as a cashier in the corner store, a parking lot attendant or filing clerk than you could if you were striving to do something you think is more important?

How would this change how you want to spend your precious time on this earth?

~ Oriah

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