I’ve been in a place in my life lately where I have been seeking and feeling very unsettled. It seems to be going around. I have a few friends who have been struggling with some significant decisions as well. Lots of questioning and soul searching has been happening.

With some, it’s a matter of choices. There are clear and laid out options. This or that, or maybe a few this and thats but essentially, the options are known. The talks and texts…the coffee dates and the walks… all connecting and trying to come to some sort of place of knowing, really knowing what is the “right” decision to make. Weighing all the pros and cons and talking it over for hours. Calculating out and projecting and trying to make rational and logical decisions over matters of the heart and spirit. What it inevitably comes down to is what “feels” right. What does your gut say? What sits right in your heart?

At the end of it all, when you take the chatter and the lists and the scales of option a or b away… you’re left with the truth. The scary truth that we avoid with a vengeance.

The truth is, we each know the answers we are searching for. We know the answer even before we’ve let ourselves pose the question; because, by the time we start to question, the answer has been found inside already. The question is our mind and hearts way of bringing us to that answer. Sometimes it takes a little longer and sometimes we have false starts and we pick the other option that we know, deep down, isn’t “right”. But the fact is that even then, it is right. For that time. Because it wasn’t the right time yet to make the choice we need to make. But we find our way eventually. We always will, if we look inside and listen. That’s where the answer is. Always has been, always will be.

The place I have found myself in is a bit different. There’s no way to listen to the answer because I’m stuck with my Self not being able to bring through the question yet. Just unsettled and knowing that there’s a maelstrom brewing underneath. A change needed, a time of growth is here and a direction needs to be seen. Some answers have already been discovered and they feel right. But there’s more. Not sure exactly what or how or where but a calmness is inside, knowing that the answers I look for are waiting for me to find them. And I will.

I have been seeking lately. Seeking the needs and the wants that I crave in my life.

Aspects and interests and desires that have moved from mere wants to become needs intrigue me. It’s envisioned by me like a fire…and flames are both a blessing and a curse. Fire can either save you or destroy you. The flames of passions and drive can fuel the momentum to fulfill your needs and bring to you what your life is clamoring for. But the fire can also slowly destroy you if it just simply burns and eats away at you, unquenched.

Not being able to actualize what we need to be whole and fulfilled is like a slow death. Worse still is being so consumed by the trivial, or the pressures and stresses , grief, depression, self-hate or even just apathy that you can’t even tell or feel what it is that you need. You just know that there’s a lacking. That something is not right. That there’s a burning for something. The something that you’re seeking.

That’s where I find myself right now. Feeling for some time now the flames slowly growing as I become more and more aware of what my needs are. Experiences that bring me not only joy, but a sense of ease and peace and home-coming for my spirit that fulfills me. The actualization of a path that is more what my Self needs to live wholly and fully. Knowing, and loving, that it is always going to be a moving path. Always a journey without a destination…because what my flames tell me is that I’m not looking for a finish line or a point of “I’m there”. What my flames speak to me is that the fluidity of change and growing and being expansive in my life IS my destination. That I’ll never reach a place of “there” and that not only is that ok, that is – with awareness – what drives me..and I love that and embrace that. These flames aren’t burning aimlessly though, they are stoking the engine to drive me.

I came across a term today that struck me and inspired me to put to words something that has been on my mind for the last year or so.
“The asking animal”, a term used to describe the human animal. What it is that makes us different from the other animals that we share nature with. Got me thinking though… are we all “asking”, or as I phrase it, seeking?

There are those of us who are seekers. Those who hunger and thirst for the “why” and for so much more that the status quo in life. Those who aren’t content with just accepting. Those who see where they are, not as the destination, but as just part of the journey. Not to say that this is the same as being always looking for the next best thing or the greener grass just on the other side of the fence. I’m talking about seeking and journeying towards more intangible gains. The striving to understand, to grow and become “more”. To desire to expand and experience rather than to be complacent. The wanting to be a better Self, a more aware Self, a more realized and actualized Self.

There are those who simply exist and bumble along in their lives. Like someone who simply drifts in the canoe down the river while the oars rest in the bottom of the boat. Maybe enjoying the ride and even looking around and appreciating the view. Happy with the direction of travel but not in control of where they go or how they get there even. They never wonder if there is a different stream to travel; one that might offer an alternate environment. They never think to take time to rest in a nook, to get out of the current for a bit. They never pick up the oars. They never even think to, never mind act on the thought. They never think of the even more radical idea of getting out of the boat altogether and striking out on foot for the mountain in the distance. The live aimlessly and complacently with whatever comes their way.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the option of simply drifting isn’t for me. Seeking and growing is who I am and how I live my life. It goes beyond just acknowledging that I am in control of my reactions to what comes my way. It’s an awareness that , in most ways, I can orchestrate how my life is lived and experienced. I may not always have control over what comes my way, but the reality is that I, we, have more input than we think we do.

To seek, to yearn and be in a constant state of growth. This is who I am. Life took a bit of a veer off for me in my twenties as I stumbled through a bad marriage and trying to live as I “should” but about 15 years ago, I made a choice to change the way I was living. I embraced who and how I am. Embraced that the striving and constant yearning to seek is me…and that it’s how I need the people who I keep close to me to be as well.

This past couple of years, living with grief and pain and finally seeing that I am the builder of my life, again. Putting it back together again after it had been torn apart by loss. Part of that entailed rediscovering that my Self craves holding the rudder and oars of my vessel. That it’s who I am. That I am happiest when the people I hold dear to me not only accept but share this embodiment of living. Choosing to cultivate relationships with the people in my life as purposely as I need to craft the rest of my environment for my Self to live. Making choices in drawing closer to those who grow and feed my spirit through friendship, chosen family and loves. Persons who support me and nurture me and accept me, as I do for them. The joy of being with those who lift me up and who I delight in seeing thrive in their travels through life. Hard choices also being made to release from my life those who merely drift and whose path encumbers mine in an unhealthy and suffocating manner. Understanding that for some, the oars will never be used and it’s time to wish them well and watch them drift away.

It means being happy and content with what and where I am but knowing that to stagnate here and to stop yearning and growing and opening my mind and my heart is to die.

A commercial for a senior’s retirement living home this evening brought on an impromptu conversation between my son and I that has me thinking.

The setting for the commercial was the standard, happy and content seniors smiling and laughing and enjoying their golden years. Board games, a communal dining room with a chef that serves “gourmet meals”, lawn bowling and “supervised shopping excursions and outings”. At the same moment both my son and I voiced the sentiment of “I hope to all that’s holy that I never end up in a place like that”. It’s not that it’s a horrible place or that it’s a bad existence… but that’s it, it’s an existence.
There’s the concept that, at that stage of life you’ve worked, you’ve toiled and you’ve earned a time of ease and not having to worry about all the minutiae of life and struggles anymore. No more worrying about meals and bills to pay and chores. Just sit back and enjoy and be taken care of as you wait. For death. For your life to run down and your flame to just extinguish. But let’s think about that… it’s the horrifying sense of being “put out to pasture” that gripped me as I watched the commercial.

My son pointed out that the fact is that in that situation, you would be with everyone else from your peer group. His next remark being that the last time he was in a grouped setting with his peer grouping was high school and that wasn’t all that great. He actually shuddered…

Which begs the question; where are all the seniors with ear tunnels, tattoos and nose piercings in that commercial? I watched the people in the setting and thought how I wouldn’t want to spend every day, day after day, with people that I wouldn’t choose to spend time with now. Did all these people change as they aged? Were they homogenized by the years to the point that they just exist together in the end regardless of whether or not they would have ever chosen to socialize at any other stage in their lives? Do they look around and think “why am I having dinner with these people?” Or, almost worse, does that not even matter? Have they lost who they were?

It’s a sadness that pervades me when I think about someone living out a life of seeming surrender. Surrender to not living how they want or true to who they are. Of giving up. That, to me, is worse than the inevitable end they’re all whittling their time away towards.