My deepest fear is of being trapped. I am more afraid of being stuck in an existence I don’t love, that doesn’t stimulate and excite me, than I am of the great unknown, of risk or possible challenges beyond the horizon.
For me, the idea of settling feels like a slow death. The thought that there isn’t something shinier and more exciting to do, new opportunities, new knowledge to gain, seems like it’s all worthless. What’s it all for if there’s no new experience?
And yet…I recognize that when I get into that mode of seeking and hungering and hankering after the next new thing, I lose the freedom I so deeply desire. The need to keep searching is itself a cage — it’s a trap to always want more, to never feel satisfied, to never feel accomplished.
I spent much of my young life searching for the next thrill, the new feeling, the shiny thing. Impulsive choices, world travel, questionable partners… I leapt from excitement to excitement, challenging myself to be better and always choosing more, seeking newness with every leap.
Yet, despite all of the living I packed in, I still didn’t feel satisfied. I didn’t feel accomplished or worthy of the story of myself I was chasing. I still had my eyes on more.
There are many parables and stories about people who just want a little more. I vividly remember, during my first Vipassana meditation retreat, hearing one such story. There is a man who advances from a one-room shanty to a fleet of Rolls Royces and still that hunger, that need for something else, can’t be sated. He wants everything and in that desire, despite all he has accomplished, he feels he has nothing.
It took a while for me to embody that teaching — to feel it deep inside me, to shift into the abundance that simply is but you can only notice when you stop craving.
And so now, when I find myself thinking “what’s next?”, I remind myself that being right here, right now is true freedom.
That excitement I’m looking for? It’s already here if I stop looking to the future.
Freedom is knowing that now is perfect as it is and that there are no “shoulds” — there is no other way that this or I ought to be.
And so, I take a deep breath and I sit and revel in that knowledge. I feel it in my body — in every cell. This moment is perfect. As long as I take care of now, as long as I bring myself back here to feel its expansive, pulsing, brilliant aliveness, then I am free.