“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” ~ Viktor Frankl
“With shortness of breath You explained the infinite And how rare and beautiful it is to even exist” ~ Saturn, Sleeping at Last
“I’d give anything to hear you say it one more time That the universe was made just to be seen by my eyes” ~ Saturn, Sleeping at Last
Life is, among other things, what you make it. Inner life, at least.
Sit completely still sometimes. Let time carry you and space wash over you. There is something more to this life.
You are safe.
When you take a real break–leaving your people and places and things–the deep down life-feelings will come in waves. Inspiration. Loneliness. Love. Uncertainty. Wonder. Pain. Acceptance. It’s your heart finally getting a turn to speak. Don’t run away from your heart. Make times to really come back to yourself.
Loneliness, when you sit with it, is a doorway.
Loneliness teaches you what you’ve grown dependent on, what controls your mind.
Loneliness shows you which parts of yourself need a tighter hug.
And on the other side of loneliness lies the powerful truth that we humans need each other.
Next time you have the chance, grab your earbuds, pick the most beautiful songs you know, and just watch the morning do its thing.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Stillness can make one’s way clearer.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Learning to be okay with stillness gives you the time back, the presence back, to actually show up for that space in between stimulus and response, to actually recognize that you don’t have to be pulled along on a carousel of pre-determined conflict and coping–that you can slow down and mindfully choose your responses to the adventures life throws at you.
Non-rational corners of the brain get little respect. We are supposed to be “smart” creatures, do what “makes sense,” “think carefully.” And yes to all that. And also yes to purposefully manufacturing feelings and emotions that access the more primitive corners of the brain and have nothing to do with logic and sensibility.
Here’s what I mean.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last,” Zig Ziglar points out. “Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.”
When we plan and think about how to do life day-to-day, we want to grow, stretch, learn, accomplish–and so we tend to put a lot of emphasis on the rationality-stuff, and forget to plan for our emotions.
We are emotional creatures. We do big, brave, beautiful things because we’re having deep feelings.
What gives you those deep feelings? What triggers them? Fuels them? Replenishes them when you’re running on empty?
Reading a good book? Singing along to the Les Misérables score? Discovering a new poet? Getting the biggest, tightest hug? Asking your heart how it’s doing and writing the answer in a journal? Volunteering to help people in need? Laying quietly for an hour by the lake? A phone call to your best friend? Reading a story that deals with death or loss or grief and purpose? Finding a good quote to live by? Gazing at photos of Mount Ida, visualizing yourself, hiking boots, backpack, all geared up, trekking the wilderness? Joining a crowd to dance, sing, cheer, laugh, or some years just seeing a bunch of smiling faces on Zoom? Holding the little hand of your sweet kiddo as they drift to sleep?
We call them “mountain top” experiences, and they change our lives, and then, when the feels wear off, and we’ve been feelingless for a good while, and we got all rational again, and we barely recognize our once-emotional-selves, we remember those episodes and call them “mountain top” experiences again but with a sort of disapproval this time, like we had fallen for something, like how silly to get so high on feelings. Or maybe like we’re just feeling insecure and a little lost deep down now, because we can’t find our way back up the mountain.
So get emotional on purpose.
What gives you those deep feelings?
commit to it,
obsess over it,
cry about it,
keep it sacred,
do it again,
do it again,
do it again.
Let’s not undervalue the truly life-changing impact of finding our feelings.
What emotions do you need today? And where could you get them? Go look, find, take them.
There is nothing silly or senseless or worthless about manufacturing vitality-giving emotions on purpose.
Approval feels really wonderful, so it’s hard not to fall back into living for approval after we’ve once found freedom.
When you find independence, you chase the things you’re genuinely interested in, the stuff you really believe in. And then that new version of life brings you new approval from new approvers. People that love you for who you are now. Only, those people are complicated and come with new pressures and expectations for you. And those people change. And so do you. So it’s easy to find yourself right back where you started: Not being true to your heart, walking the tightrope of your new tribe’s approval.
What would happen if you got out of your head? What would happen if you just hit refresh on that independence every couple of months. Mindfully said, “Hey, I don’t have to . . . [fill-in-the-blank].”
We are free. Freedom brings life, life brings community, and community–no matter how wonderful–can be a complicated thing for our codependent little hearts to navigate.
So here’s your reminder, whether you’re on round two or three or four or twelve of rediscovering yourself, reinventing yourself, letting yourself live your genuine life instead of the one expected–here’s your reminder to keep ignoring that loud, persistent longing to be “normal” or approved of–no matter who your current tribe is.
You are you.
P.S. You may just find that you have some true community–some fellow humans who don’t even have the expectations of you that you’re trying to live up to. Who just see you as you.
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” ~ Neil Gaiman
Almost done with work. Almost the weekend. Almost time to eat. Almost time to go. Almost bed time. Almost done with this workout. Almost done with classes.
Then, it will be better.
Someday. When all the stars have aligned, our lives will begin.
In that perfect moment, we’ll be alive. We’ll be happy. We’ll want to be present.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who falls into a cycle of waiting–watching the clock–wishing the time away. Almost done with work. Almost the weekend. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for later.
“But then,” says Eckhart Tolle, “you miss your whole life, which is never not now.”
What would happen if next time you find yourself watching the clock, you stop and ask yourself big questions like: Where am I? Who am I? What is happening right now? Why am I doing this? What is good and beautiful right here, right now? What is meaningful right here, right now?
Wishing time away becomes a habit. Our entire lives can slip away while we’re waiting for them to begin.
How can you break that habit? (Right this moment?)