On practicing stillness


Photo credit: Flickr user Pictoquotes

Ever since my best friend’s wedding in early July, I have felt the tug. The tug is a constant nagging reminder that I must move forward; must make something major happen in my life. What is that something, exactly?

I have no idea.

Perhaps watching my best friend take a major step in her life propelled me to think I should be doing the same. Or perhaps the tug has been lying dormant in me for a long while, pushed down to the depths of my subconscious to be dealt with at a later date. All I know for sure is that it’s there, and that it can’t be ignored. It’s always tugging.

For the better part of my life — ages 2 through 25 — I was a student, which was rather simple. My goals were clear: to graduate and to find employment. Outside of graduating from college and law school, the only other tangible #lifegoals I can ever remember having were: to move to New York City, to find someone to love, to write, and to eventually move to the beach. Check, check, check and check.

Now what?

I guess I never considered the fact that I might accomplish my major milestone goals by 30. Or that my “life goals” were not very specific or ambitious (unlike the adorably unrealistic goals I used to set for myself in my journal, like “I vow to lose 4,000 pounds in the next 3 weeks!” or, “I will become fluent in Spanish by the new year — two months left is plenty of time!”).

So, I decided to take some time to reflect on where I’m at and where I’d like to go. All summer long, I have allowed myself the luxury of stillness. I haven’t written much, or accomplished much at all, other than the usual work and chores around the house.

I swam in the ocean almost every day, convinced that the salt water would invigorate my mind and pull me from my stupor. I went for long walks in the woods and did yoga, and even tried meditation after years of resisting the very idea of it. I thought if I could just learn to listen to myself without the judgment of my critical inner voice, I might understand where the tug was coming from.

No such luck. At least not yet.

In some ways, it’s extremely frustrating to feel like I am falling behind, when there is no good reason for it. The reality is that I’m doing just fine. I’m happy and healthy. I’m in a long-term relationship with an incredibly supportive partner. I have two perfect little fur-babies, a good job, a beautiful apartment 4 blocks from the beach, many friends who love me deeply for who I am, a family who always comes to visit, and a blog with engaged readers who put up with my endless and often insufferable philosophizing. By most accounts, I’m living the dream! (Permission to want to punch me in my face for even listing these things out, or thinking they’re not enough: GRANTED.)

Maybe the lesson in all of this is that I must learn to appreciate my life as it is, and to stop itching for something more.

As frustrating as the tug can be, it is also an extraordinary gift. I’m slowly learning to let go of all of the pressure and expectations I put on myself and others. Instead, I’m choosing to listen — really listen — to my own inner voice, and the whispers of the world around me. In doing so, I am humbled. I haven’t figured it all out, and that is ok. I will never figure it all out. There will probably always be another tug of discontentment right around the corner.

In the meantime, I think I will take one more swim in the ocean today, and revel in the joy of being exactly where I always hoped I would be.


Readers: have you experienced the tug lately? How have you dealt with it?