Who are you? What are your passions? What do you want?
Orchestral and reaching questions. Too much to think about when lining up to buy your cat food and mouthwash. The type of questions left for the magical “one day” when you are meditating on a mountaintop and the answers come flowing out of you like rainwater spilling over leaves during a monsoon.
These questions haunt me at times. They nip at the heels of my mind and constantly try to pin me down. What do I want?
For years I have dealt with the second question. I listen to many motivational speakers talking about finding your passion, about nailing down those things you were meant to do, about falling in love with your work in life, about using that gift from the Creator to better those around you and yourself. But what if you don’t know what they are? Will we ever know, or are there only a few lucky souls out there who found it and the rest of us are to suffer?
I like naps. In fact, I love naps. And eating. But those aren’t passions as they are functions of the body. I like to write on occasion. I like to run. But they are accessories. They help me sort my brain out and bring me a certain level of comfort, but they don’t drive me daily. They don’t prick at my skin if I neglect them. Sure, I may get a bit surly if I am injured and can’t run, but most runners are like that. I am not compelled to be an Olympic athlete (I’m too old, anyways).
As for writing, I have come to the conclusion that I am not the writer with a capital “w” as I thought I was. In some ways it’s a relief to let go of that banner which I falsely carried for years. I know many strong and hard-working writers, who really immerse themselves in the craft, and in reading, and have a passion for it that eludes me. I admire them. I love their strong will. I see that they need to write. I don’t. I enjoy it and can put a sentence together alright, but I don’t get an itchy pen hand when not scribbling. And that’s okay. I am more than comfortable now that I can verbalise it and feel it.
Alcohol was a false prophet when it came to passion. I craved it for it’s magical properties, to convert a no-nothing guy like me into something, well, special. I felt like I had some passion in me. It made me feel that I knew what I wanted. When drinking, I felt like I could take on the world. And the next day, after the boozy pixie dust blew away, I was left with nothing. A shell within the shell of an idea.
I was listening to philosopher and speaker Alan Watts the other day. He had a fabulous and brilliant mind, and he has a well-known talk about finding out what we want, and about the decay of life and giving it away to keep it. The one part that stands out in his talk is when he states:
Why don’t you really know what you want?
Two reasons, that you don’t really know what you want.
Number one: You have it.
Number two: You don’t know yourself. Because you never can. The godhead is never the object of its own knowledge, just as a knife doesn’t cut itself, fire doesn’t burn itself, life doesn’t illumine itself. It’s always an endless mystery to itself. “I don’t know”. And this “I don’t know”, uttered in the infinite interior of the spirit, this “I don’t know”, is the same thing as “I love”, “I let go”, “I don’t try to force or control”. It’s the same thing as humility.
The idea of already having what we want is a heavy trip. We hear this often in spiritual circles – “you are enough”. The concept of already possessing what we need is one that boggles the mind. As Watts notes in another talk of his, “trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” We are plenty, we are every changing, and yet we can’t pin it down. We look elsewhere for our happiness, but we have always had it within. And in searching for it without, we deny the happiness we already carry. Spiritual Guru Rupert Spira describes it as: “the self that seeks happiness is like a wave which seeks water”. The ocean and the wave are separate and yet the same.
The crazy thing about being on a spiritual journey is that it leaves you with more questions than answers, and yet it’s in seeking the answers that truly is the real work, the real path. The questions are the arrows pointing the way. That is where I find myself these days — in existential thoughts as I see myself cresting over the (hopefully) halfway hill of my life. It’s not enough for me to just be sober. I seek more in this life, to give back, to feel truly fulfilled. My goal is that when I die, I will die knowing that I put it all out there, that I didn’t leave anything behind. And that is my quandary — to find the passions that ignite me further, and yet staying within my own confines so that I don’t find myself trying to define myself with a label or a thing…in other words, trying to bite my own teeth.
So inward I dive. All the answers are within. They always have been. I just need the right tools to get in there. A karmic crowbar, or a Jesuit jackhammer will do. Perhaps a spot of tea and the right meditation incense. Or really, the willingness to go deeper. An open mind. Unflinching honesty. And that is where I sit. I look to hold the mirror a bit more towards myself and less outside. I look to delve in and not spout out. It’s not an easy task, but the rewards are worth it.