If you’re religious you’ll want a reward. If you’re “spiritual” you’ll want purpose. And scientists want answers. For whatever reason, egos spend their time searching for parts of themselves or the world that they imagine are missing. There is an idea that things will be better if we can discover or accomplish this or that thing.
Maybe you think it’s a person that will fulfil your life. Maybe you think it’s a place, or a job, or a state of mind. Egos name things, and you want a name. You want a target. You want to be able to be proud of your aim—of your success. You want to gain some certainty in your life by knowing what to do. But this is challenging and disheartening, because one cannot find what isn’t there. There is no thing-to-do, so one cannot know it. There is only what you do. The universe is a verb, not a noun.
There is no right or wrong way to go. You don’t need to find the right religion. You don’t need to get better at yoga, or cooking, or getting along with your mother. Your life is a beach. Where is the right place to go on a beach? Well that depends, doesn’t it? If you’re just starting your holiday, then right in the middle, out in the sun sounds great. But later, after you’ve had enough sun, then you want the shade near the tree line. But then your friends show up and you play in the surf. But then you notice one particular friend and the two of you walk hand-in-hand at the waterline.
So where was the right place? They were all right places. Even if the couple ends up arguing, they still didn’t make a mistake. They just each paddled their boat and collectively that’s where the forces of life took them. That’s not a failing. That’s just the universe unfolding in the way that it does.
Stop searching. Stop wanting to be healthy. Stop wanting to be different. Stop thinking something’s missing. The only thing missing is your understanding that you are perfect, and everywhere you go and everything you do is perfectly a part of universe unfolding.
As a toddler you didn’t think you should be different. You didn’t care about people’s judgments of you because you couldn’t even understand them. You need language to build the idea of criticism into your brain. You just were. You hadn’t been taught yet who you should be by your parents, peers and advertising etc.
Once there’s specific ways to be we begin to suffer because the ways other people want us to be are routinely incompatible. We want to belong but we feel if we disappoint people that they won’t want our company. But it’s impossible not to disappoint them because we can’t just be a puppet for every single thing they want from us. If we give up our free will we give up our humanity.
Stop worrying about the judgments you’ve been taught. Just do what feels right to you and that will be as good a life as anyone’s ever lived. There was never anything missing. There’s just a life that happens because you live out your part of the universe by making choices. Those choices aren’t right or wrong. They’re just what the universe did and it did some of it through you.
So just relax. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. Maybe it’ll be great. Maybe it won’t. But no one’s judging it anyway. So just wander around the beach in whatever way suits you and have as much fun as you can. Because that’s what it is to be truly responsible for yourself.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.