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Not All who Wander are Lost

Updated: May 23

The Law of Attraction tells us that our thoughts create our reality, and this is true no matter whether we are thinking positive or negative thoughts. We all have the power within us to create the lives that we dream of, to become whatever we wish to be. We just have to seek the stillness of ourselves to find our truth.

Sometimes, it isn't just the events unfolding in our lives that cause us to feel unhappy or unsatisfied. It can be the perspective or the lens we are using to view our lives. Instead of looking at obstacles as lessons, we have a tendency to see them as insurmountable mountains that we can't climb.

I always get what I want.

The problem is, lately I have been accomplishing goals I have set out for myself, only to realize I was going in the wrong direction. The things I thought I wanted aren't what I actually wanted. I have been searching for answers in the wrong places. Asking the wrong people the wrong questions. No wonder the answers are unsatisfying.

I wanted to move to Germany and make a new life with a lower cost of living. Did that. I wanted to become a digital nomad who could work from anywhere. Did that too. Neither one of them made me happy, though I spent months longing for those dreams to come true.

When things seemed to not be working out, I went searching in the past for answers. I looked back with guilt, regret and self-blame. I beat myself up for making mistakes that seem unfixable. I have been longing for a life I left behind, realizing how ungrateful I was for what I had before.

I let people down. I let my depression overcome my life, and sadness permeate every ounce of my being. I got stuck in a lack mentality, angry for all the things that had been taken from me. I didn't realize that this is what I wanted. Time and space to be free, to explore my spirituality, to become the Buddha under the Bodhi tree.

This morning I realized, the past doesn't hold the answers. The future does.

If I was unhappy with the life I had before, the life I worked so hard to create, then clearly that past experience isn't what I need to revisit. I need to shift my focus. Realize, I have the freedom now to create anything I want.

Staring at a blank slate can be terrifying.

“It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.”
―Chuck Palahniuk,Fight Club

I didn't watch all my flaming furniture burst through my floor-to-ceiling windows into the night, but my sense of loss was the same. I lost the life that I thought would complete me. When I realized that no one really wanted to be with me, it hurt in an indescribable way. I had invested so much love, time, energy and effort into building that life with Gary and River in Germany, and now it's gone.

Even though I wasn't happy with that life, in fact I was downright miserable, losing something that I had worked so hard for hurt. We build lives for ourselves, thinking that we are creating a lasting foundation, and forget that in life, everything is transient.


I allowed myself to forget that, The Only Constant in Life is Change. Everything that happens to us, good or bad, floats away into the past. Just like sand running through your fingers, you can't hold onto anything in a way that lasts. Trying to attach ourselves to anything in this world is a futile task, because everything is constantly moving and changing.

There is a deeper, more knowing, part of ourselves that knows this truth. And still, we allow ourselves to forget. To become a part of the mundane world that is just slogging aimlessly forward toward its doom. Society, as it is now, is not sustainable. Trying to fit in is counterproductive, and taking us in the wrong direction. Like lemmings, running towards the edge of a cliff.

In the wisest parts of ourselves, we know the truth of impermanence. We watch it each day as the seasons change, as water flows towards the sea, as our children grow older.

We know that life and death are intertwined, as we grow older and see the beginnings of gray hair and wrinkles in our own appearance.

Maybe turning 40 is making me have a new existential crisis. There is a part of me that feels like I am too old to start over, too old to create a new life out of these broken pieces and move on. I don't have all of the agility, speed or beauty I had when I was young. But I have gained wisdom. Now is the time to use it.

I had a 20-something friend tell me last week that I'm not old. Maybe I haven't lost as much of myself as I think I did. Or maybe, it doesn't matter what is lost, but what can be found going forward.

Image by Speedy McVroom from Pixabay

To celebrate the idea of impermanence, Buddhist monks make mandalas in the sand. Beautiful artwork that takes time and patience to create, then it is swept away again when it is completed.

According to The Asia Society,

The construction of the mandala begins with a ceremony in which the monks consecrate the site and call forth forces of goodness through chants, meditation, and music. Then, over the course of ten days, the monks will pour millions of grains of colored sand from traditional metal funnels (chak-purs), purifying and healing the space and its inhabitants in the process. Shortly after its completion the monks will dismantle the mandala to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists and disperse the sand in order to share its blessing.

In order to release the pain of loss that we feel inside ourselves when the things we build don't last, we need to be reminded of this impermanence. Nothing is really meant to last forever. Even the tallest mountains are worn down by the elements with time. So it is with our lives too.

Finding Freedom

Even though we in the west may associate impermanence with a sense of loss and fear, it doesn't have to be that way. Knowing that nothing lasts doesn't have to cause us to give up with a sense of futility. Instead, it can beckon us onward into an uncertain future. A future where we are free to create as we choose.

Although this life I have now is a life of uncertainty, it doesn't have to be a life of fear and loss. A lack of stable housing doesn't have to be a punishment, as I have been seeing it. Instead, I can look at this time as an opportunity to do... whatever I want.

Not having a house means I'm not stuck in place. I don't have a mortgage or home maintenance to worry about. I can go somewhere new on a whim. I can go or stay as I choose. I am free to go on a new path at any moment.

Instead of feeling fear about going my path alone, I can embrace a sense of excitement and adventure. Go to exotic places, try new things, meet new people, become exposed to new ideas. I don't have to do what anyone tells me anymore. I am beholden to no one.

If nobody wants me, that means I am free. Not held in place by relationships that need to be maintained through closeness. I can always video chat with anyone, anywhere in the world. Right now, for the first time in over 20 years, I am not responsible for caring for other people's needs.

It's time to dream a new dream, carve a new path, and find something extraordinary!

I don't have to let life hold me back. I don't have to be stuck in a lack mindset. I don't have to feel bad about myself anymore because of a past that is littered with broken pieces of things I thought I wanted.

I need to remember, I always get what I want. And now, I have the freedom to decide what that is.

All these years, I have invested time, energy and effort into building other people's lives. Helping other people find their dreams. Now, it is finally my turn to find my own dream. My new mantra: I will find a new dream.

I may not know what the future holds, and that's ok. We don't always have to know everything. Sometimes, the best things happen when you don't have a plan.

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