As I may be without internet access for several days I thought I would share a few old posts from the early days of the blog. My apologies to those who may have seen them already.
Looking through old poems and writing I am struck by how much the sense of longing pervades them. A sense of yearning. Yet, when I think about it, look at the dates, I realise that many of these pieces were written when I was settled, when I would have said, at the time, that I was happy.
It makes me wonder how much my expectations for myself in real terms were out of kilter with my innermost needs. For there is a hunger in those pages for something intangible and quite out of reach.
We can all have that nebulous dream, that star beyond our grasp… whether it is the round the world trip we know we will probably never be able to take or the Ferrari (well, Morgan in my case) we will almost certainly not be able to afford. There is nothing wrong with dreaming the impossible or improbable… who knows, if we dream well enough and work towards it, we may make a dream come true. Or we may find something unexpected that satisfies the longing of the innermost heart in ways we could not have contemplated.
Dreams evolve and grow. Some remain with us for a lifetime; others are born as we grow. I have always wanted to travel and see more of the world than I have so far. I haven’t given up on that. It is all very well seeing the world through the camera lens, or hearing about it from those who have been there. But it does not compare with standing in a place yourself, feeling a different wind upon your face and sharing a smile with a stranger.
Over the years there have been many dreams, from complex to simple ones. Many I have seen come true, some were never going to happen. Yet the focus has shifted so much over the years it is barely recognisable. If I had to say what I wanted from life now, it would simply be to live it.
That may seem an odd thing to say, but I have a feeling many people can relate to this. I seem to have stumbled through life blindly for a long time, defined by others, by my own reactions to events, blinkered by habit. I was a mouse, afraid of life, with absolutely no self-confidence at all. Yet looking back, the thing I was most afraid of was simply myself. I did not know who I could be, might be, should be. Only who I was expected to be. Stepping outside of that was way too scary.
Events, of course, push and stretch us and personal boundaries are given the chance to expand. Big events or small ones, it doesn’t matter. The choice to simply react in the way we expect or are expected to, or to act from the true self, is always there. And when we choose to act we are no longer defined by anything else except ourselves. This idea slowly took root and began to bear fruit.
I remembered the biblical reference to the lilies of the field. There was something in that, I felt, that I was missing. It wasn’t about simply sitting back and letting life happen to you, not trying, or attempting to grow. Nor was it only the traditional interpretation about not worrying too much about the trappings of the world. It was about trust.
We can worry about what might happen till the cows come home. But as the Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.”
So how about if I stopped worrying about what ifs and simply trusted that whatever might happen there was something to learn from it? A reason for it that perhaps I could not see? Looking back on some major life events showed me that yes, that worked. I could even see where I had missed the chance for change, through blindness, or moral cowardice, and been led right back to a similar point, over and over again until I ‘got’ the idea and finally learned to act.
Funnily enough, I have never been afraid to act on behalf of others and will fight a corner like a tigress. A small one, admittedly. I wondered now if this too was a kind of cowardice, for I would accept almost anything for myself… and somehow justify it, regardless of how bad it was. By standing up for others I was hiding my own ability to act for myself. It began to dawn on me that the things I was afraid of were not external, but internal. I was afraid if how I would be perceived, of whether I would be loved, liked or needed. Somehow I seemed to have no value to myself. And that was where the fear lay.
It was no quick fix, the journey of realisation has taken a lifetime so far and no doubt has a long way still to go. But in learning to trust life, I also learned that I too am valuable, no less unique than any other creature, no less necessary to the whole tableau of life. Subtract but a grain of sand from existence and it would be incomplete. I learned too to have confidence in myself. I was no longer afraid of just being me. If I make a mistake, then I can learn from that. If I get things wrong, I can learn from that too. Trust opened a lot of doors within.
It also set me off on another idea, that of purpose. Everything that happens seems to move us immutably closer to who and where we are supposed to be, and we are presented with the crossroads of choice at every step. At any moment we can change direction, at every step we can choose another path. Yet somehow, when we trust that purpose, we are, it seems, led to the place we should be. It is not predestination, it is an intricate dance of possibility and decision and we are the choreographers of our own lives.