Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Do you ever find yourself thinking how perfect life would be if you could only have all that which you long desired, accomplish all your powerful dreams, or maybe find the perfect person for your lonely life? And only then, at some undetermined future time, would you be fully satisfied, successful, happy, and complete? I will admit, that pitiful yet common state of mind, was my natural inclination. From childhood to adulthood, I trained my mind to think that satisfaction was a future or even distant future event. I often daydreamed, protractedly and ritualistically, as my whirling mind took fanciful flight away from the cares of the present, towards some unrealized, non-existent oasis in time. That unknown destination was my happy place - a place of salvation, a place of realized success, a perfect place. But what I did not know at the time, that that was the lazy way out - a cop out. It was a way for me to escape what was before me - the work of the present.
My search for that state of wholeness was, in reality, a search to be 'saved' from feelings of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, inadequacy, and emptiness. It was a quest for happiness. But truth be told, happiness that attaches itself to something illusory and external, is never lasting. It is fleeting. One might experience a moment or moments of blissful satisfaction or boost to the ego after having completed a degree, bought a house, received a promotion, started a new business, et cetera. But that state quickly fades as the momentary high wears off, sinking you back to the stark reality of life. What subsequently emerges is a craving, an unmet need, that if left unchecked, can lead to addiction - however that manifests in one's life. It can become a vicious cycle of highs and lows, a dizzying spinning that goes no where like a dog chasing its tail. What's required, so often, is stillness and contemplation. The oft dismissed and avoided internal work always remains. It always beckons for one's attention.
The internal work that summoned my attention, was addressing the root cause of that cycle of escapism, depression, needing and wanting more and more, dissatisfaction, unfulfillment, inadequacy, and perfectionism that plagued me. Dealing, finally, with the implications of my absentee father was where it had to begin. In fact, I had never confronted it or dealt with it. I simply coped with it, the best way I knew how at the time, and not always in positive ways. I never understood that it was not my fault. I never knew that it was he who chose to walk away from me. I never realized that I did nothing wrong. Rather, I constantly needed who I never had. My father became the embodiment and object of my salvation. Those feelings of self-blame and misplaced guilt were like a knife that I used to cut myself over and over again. These self-inflicted psychological wounds were with me always. I had to escape somehow. I was drowning. I was suffocating. The present was unbearable. So the future became my fortress. My salvation was just a thought away. But I never could grasp it. It took years of searching, reading, and listening to the inner voice that kept whispering ever so softly "you are enough" for me to realize that I was already perfect, already whole - just the way I am. I spent almost a lifetime trying to figure a stranger out (my father), when all I really should have been doing all along was figure me out instead. Did I need my father? Yes. But I needed me more. So I did the one thing I should have done so long ago - I honored the choice he made so many years before and finally let him go.
I started this arduous journey by listing all the blessings I already had and focused on them - life, family, friends, talent, each moment. I appreciated them. And I showed gratitude for them. My intention was to do right by me each day. And that's how things slowly began to change. There are days when old tendencies rear their ugly head. "Old habits die hard" they say. But each bad habit is broken by a choice to do things differently in each moment. The past does not prevent me from saying yes to new ways of being. So I pay attention and do the work. It is my responsibility.
When things go wrong or are out of synch in our lives, our tendency is to fixate on others, look to things, or to some future state of bliss to reorient our present imbalance. We often simmer and languish in our feelings of hurt over what we perceive as wrongs done to us or against us. But we never stop to examine the power we have in each moment to shift our thought patterns from a mindset of victimhood to overcomer. How we get there may differ for each person. Some may need therapy, some may need psychological intervention, maybe both, while others may only require simple self-help tools. But whatever the path, know that your salvation lies in the present. The power that each one needs to live a full, meaningful, and whole life IS now. You do not need to become successful for you to find the freedom you so need. The present is the gift that keeps on giving. So immerse yourself in it - fully. Bring all your thoughts, ideas, passion, authenticity, energy, talents to everything you do. Be intentional. Live, laugh, love with all you've got. Embrace the fullness of life in all its colors and in all its shades. Be grateful. Do not avoid your pain or your failures but see them as your teachers. Embrace them. They are life lessons that reorient you to the right path. Learn from everything and regret nothing. You don't need tomorrow(s) when you already got today - this moment - now. Let go of the illusion of needing time to be happy, free, or satisfied. The key that has always been in your pocket, is the right fit for the door right in front of you. So unlock it and be free! Choose NOW!