There are no things I want to do. Only feelings I want to feel.
In mid-June, my wife and I had the amazing opportunity to spend 6 days driving up the coast of Maine. It was beautiful. Michelle always does a beautiful and wonderful job planning things and this time was no exception. It was so good. We didn’t have much cell phone service, so we had to do that thing that people used to do before the internet----talk. If you know me, you know one of my favorite things to do is dream out loud. I like to talk about my plans for life as if they have already happened. I also love to hear the people close to me do the same thing. There is something about the way a person’s eyes light up when they start hearing themselves talk about their hearts’ desires. Its an automatic mood lifter and it often fosters great connection between the two-people conversing (that was a little free marriage counseling—you’re welcome lol).
So anyway, we are talking, and the subject of our next vacation comes up. She asked me where I wanted to go and my first answer was The Maldives. But oddly enough, while I was talking, I struggled to dream up the details of the trip. I stopped almost mid-sentence when I realized that I didn’t really want to go…..anywhere. Ok, let me explain. If I am honest with myself, life has been pretty good for me. I can only count on one hand things I have really wanted and not gotten. Sometimes, I didn’t get them to the degree that I wanted them, but for the most part, I get (and have gotten) what I want. At first glance that sounds awesome, right? But in so many ways it hasn’t been. You see, in the midst of getting what I want, I have also battled depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation for nearly 20 years. The combination of those two has taught me so many valuable lessons. One such lesson is that nothing can make me happy. Literally nothing. And that is not meant to be negative statement…but it certainly is an emphatic one. I know that nothing can make me happy, because as I stated, I have had plenty o’ things, and the joy they have given me has been fleeting at best. You know, I am happy for a moment and then a new goal or want forms in my head and instead of reveling in the joy of the thing that I have, I become focused on the new thing that I want. In psychological terms, that’s called the hedonic treadmill, but in real life, its called “neva satisfied.”
This particular lesson has been very valuable for me, because it has helped me understand that since all happiness is fleeting, I don’t need to hold onto to anything too long. That lesson also indirectly led me to my realization about our next vacation. As we were overlooking the gorgeous landscape, I immediately realized that going to The Maldives wouldn’t make me happy. There wasn’t going to be any place that would make me happy, because I didn’t truly desire to be anywhere else….I desired to feel something else. That’s always the goal isn’t it? To feel better. Everything we do is in search of a better feeling. We eat to feel full. We love to feel connected. We exercise to feel strong. And we travel to feel free. Unfortunately, on the other end of each of those feelings we desire is the feeling that we currently have ---the exact opposite. We think that doing, or having, or going to this place or the next will give us the better feeling, but deep down we know it won’t last and we will eventually want more.
And here is where I stand now at 12:46am on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I look at my life and even thought I would have to manufacture a complaint, I often feel disconnected, sad, caged, misunderstood, and frustrated. Years ago, I would simply make a new goal and focus on that, but in my wisdom, I am rejecting the impulse to do that. I now know that there isn’t any place I want to go. There isn’t a new goal that I want to cross off my list. There isn’t even an amount of money that I want to make.
Quite the contrary, I want to sit still and simply feel
….free, happy, accomplished, seen, heard, appreciated, desired, etc.
I can’t say that I have come up with a clear answer to my current state of being, but I can say, I am not interested in running from it, eating it, or covering it up. Sometimes the most valuable thing you can do is be still and feel…what ‘s real…right now.