Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life Travels

I read a book called Practical Intuition by Laura Day. She asks you to come up with three major questions you have about your life and then has you write short "stories" about an object in front of you or something from your imagination. You wind up answering your questions with these stories, not knowing that you were answering them. The stories reveal details and answers that you never would have gotten to without your intuition handing them over to you. I was amazed by the answers I received, especially to this question: How can I travel to all the places I want to go? Without knowing what question I was answering, she had asked me to picture an image in my mind. I pictured mint ice cream in a waffle cone. Then things got interesting.
My "story": The cone looks beautiful and I don't want it to start melting but I don't want to eat it. It's fresh and refreshing and makes me feel good. It's in a light-filled parlor in Northern California's Gold Country. The place smells wonderful, like coffee and childhood, and it comforts and pleases me. It makes me feel nostalgic and homesick because it's so beautiful here and I can't understand why its beauty and pleasure make me ache. I don't know what I am homesick for but I don't necessarily feel that I belong in this place of beauty, like I can't get enough of it, can't handle its goodness or I don't feel "included" in it. I'm experiencing it but outside of it somehow. It's heart-achy and I love it, but I want it to feel only good, without the bitter in the sweetness. Originally, this place felt simple and sweet to me, but the longer I am here, I am overwhelmed by a sense of longing and a desire to feel continuously satisfied, like I deserve to feel satisfied without fear of it ending or me becoming sad. I initially felt that there was something delightful for me to partake in and experience but it turned into a feeling of dread, being unable to take in all this joy.
The revelation: I was writing about travels, but without knowing it, I was writing about my attitude toward life - the entire experience of traveling through life. It makes me feel good, I don't want it to "melt" (disappear/end), and yet I don't want to eat (partake in?) it. Fear. Fear of fully taking in and experiencing life. It's nice to look at but not a good idea to eat up or take in for fear that it will be gone. I realized I am afraid to take in life and experience it fully because if I do, then it will be over and gone. I had no idea that I feared death to this degree and that it had been preventing me from living my ideal life. The emotional logic being that if I sit on the sidelines, I can slow it down and cheat death. And more, if I live the life I love and am meant to live, death will be more sad, painful  and unbearable than if I remained in mediocrity. Staying in the safety zones would make me feel like I wasn't missing much if I died. The loss of my life would be easier because I wouldn't mourn the loss of the greatness of a life I never allowed myself to live.
Whenever I consider the point of life, I always think about people that I love and vacations we've taken together. I think about the closeness and unity that grows while laying poolside or on a beach, singing songs around a campfire, discovering new places and people, playing games and sitting together for hours over a leisurely dinner. We're all on this journey of life, as though a vacation. Part of life's profundity is this awareness that we are going to die. Built into our experience and conception is an inescapable knowledge that it ends. This induces fear in us, but also endows life with an urgency and poignancy. This knowledge is not an accident. It's part of the plan and purpose.  I think post-vacation blues hit us because they mirror our existential dilemma. Post-vacation blues are a mini-version of this anxiety: vacations end, we reason, and so will life.
To me, life is that light-filled parlor in Northern California. It smells wonderful. Life smells wonderful. This parlor is all the places I ever have been or will ever go in my life. California is where I came to realize my dreams, that ideal life that scares me. It's in gold country, because this earth is rich and we were all designed to come here and prosper, and revel in it.  I get homesick when I remember my essence - an eternal being having a finite experience on earth. I get nostalgic for all the times I have felt and continue to feel a communion and connection with all the beautiful people in my life, at home or abroad. I'd like to eat the ice cream now. I do belong in this place of beauty. I have a feeling I can handle the goodness. I am designed for it. I ache with recognition - how beautiful to be alive! Regardless of the bitter, how sweet to be alive!