There are times in life when you feel yourself turning a corner. Some call it an epiphany, but I don’t like that word because it implies a sense of monumental discover and change, as if you were blind but now can see or disabled but now can walk.
It’s not as big or grandiose as an epiphany. It’s more like solving a puzzle. After an hour or so of trying and failing to connect one piece to another, your mind is able to grasp the edges of the picture and very quickly each piece drops into place.
Monday was my birthday. I’m 35 years old. And most of those years have been spent engaged in The Search. Sometimes I knew what I was looking for, sometimes I thought I knew what I was looking for, but mostly it was aimless.
It was a reactionary searching, born not of a desire for something in particular, but merely something more or different than what I had. It’s as if meaning and purpose have always been slightly out of reach.
I still don’t have an answer. But it feels as if I’ve reached an altitude where I can look out over the landscape of my life and begin to see, if only faintly, the edges of the puzzle.
And those faint edges have changed my thinking in a few key ways.
The first is that The Search will never provide what we’re looking for. Searching implies there is something to be found. It’s finite. Eventually, it ends.
But life doesn’t work that way. We don’t stumble upon our unlived life. We create it. Every single day.
It’s not that I’ve abandoned The Search, I’ve merely reframed it. Instead of The Search, it’s now The Journey.
The Journey is also finite. It also involves discovery. But where The Search results in “I have become”, The Journey result in “I am becoming.”
It’s a subtle difference. But the most powerful changes in my life always seem to come from the most subtle shifts in thought.
The second thing revealed in my glimpse of the edges, is this whole concept of reframing. Rarely, if ever, do we encounter a hard right turn, that changes our whole life. Most of the time, it’s a slight course correction that, over time, puts us a thousand miles away from where we would have been.
Most of my life has been spent asking me-centric questions. When will I find someone that will make me happy? What kind of work will make me feel complete? What knowledge or experience will make me successful?
It’s a very myopic existence. Make me happy. Make me complete. Make me successful.
But what if I reframed those questions and, instead, asked, What has kept me from being happy? Why haven’t I started that business? What am I doing or not doing that kept success out of reach?
Do you see the difference? The attitude of the first is, “The world owes me something.” The attitude of the second is, “What can I make of the world I have?”
The first is The Search. The second is The Journey.
I’m not big on reflecting. I don’t make resolutions. But as I turn 35, I can’t help but look back, at least a little, and realize how much arrogance and self has been at the heart of all this existential angst and continual searching.
I’m trading expectations for opportunity, thinking for doing, talking for practicing, whining for getting better.
I don’t know if this year will be different than the last. But I know it can be, if I wake up every morning and make a choice.
Am I going to continue with The Search or embrace The Journey?
Published by Adam Clark on January 13, 2015
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