In less than two weeks of getting deeper into Taoism I’ve had a real breakthrough in my existential crisis. A rough summary would be:
Ten years ago I made the decision to start my own business. I went for it full force and took entirely too many risks that put me in the position to have to rebuild my entire life. Here, ten years later, I see things so clearly. Things I never even had the ability to see back then. And once again, I find myself grateful for the struggles.
I’m a tenacious person. I throw myself into projects that inspire me and I don’t stop until I get what I want…or at least until they’ve reached some form of completion. I will find a way to make it work. I always have. Well, in the case of my business, I ran hard for years chasing my goal. Never even realizing that while I was “chasing” I was also “running”. But running from what? I had never thought to look at it that way.
Bottom line, looking back at me ten years ago, I was unhappy. So very unhappy. Unhappy in my marriage, unhappy in my life. I had lost appreciation for everything I/we had worked so hard to achieve. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do…and I wasn’t even really sure what that was. But I didn’t see it. I thought that if I succeeded at building this business that it would improve my life. So I chased it. Until it broke me. Literally and figuratively.
Ten Thousand Foot View
It’s so obvious to me now that I was fighting the flow. I was fighting to keep my marriage for some reason thinking it would get better if I was more successful. What I didn’t realize was that deep down, I didn’t want it anymore. I actually didn’t like the person he had become. Or maybe it was that I was a different person that didn’t like the person he had always been. Or any combination of the two…or maybe he didn’t like me which caused him to suck. Whatever it was, I couldn’t see it clearly. I just wanted things to be better. Calmer. Happier.
I chased what I thought would make things better – money, stuff, travel, fine dining. They were all fun, but the happiness was momentary, at best. But I kept trying to “fix” things outwardly. An attempt to convince myself that all of the losses I was facing wouldn’t happen. It could get better. Maybe it could even go back to the way it was. Maybe I could even feel the way I used to feel.
I never realized that what I was actually chasing wasn’t success, but the very change I didn’t think I wanted. So basically, the exact thing I told myself I was resisting was actually what I wanted deep down. Change. But change was the flow I was fighting…and it was going to happen whether I fought it or not.
No matter how much I fought the change to the “space” in which I lived – the loss of my marriage, the loss of my money, the loss of my career…the loss of my whatever – the change to my “space” occurred anyway. Looking back, I can see that it occurred because of how I truly felt, deep down in a place I didn’t even know existed.
I had been so busy focussing on distractions – relationship drama, money woes, etc. – all so I could tell myself to hold on to something I honestly didn’t want. I just wanted to keep myself protected from the pain of the loss of the life I knew. Turns out, I still felt the pain, only I perceived it was for different reasons.
And ten years later I find myself having gained new friendships, a new chosen family, a new living situation, new self awareness, and a new appreciation for the space in which it all exists.
Chapter 11 of the Tao Te Ching talks about space. We build vessels, houses, cars, gardens…everything to use the space they create. We even decorate our spaces with “stuff” that helps enhance that space in a way we uniquely appreciate. We often don’t even realize that we value that “stuff” not because of what it is, but because of the space in which we use it. Even if we were talking about a simple rubber ball. It’s not the ball we love, it’s the places we go (both mentally and physically) when we play with it. We perceive we are attached to the object – the house, the car, the rubber ball – but we’re attached to the experience we have within the space they create.
Just as the Tao Te Ching described clay pots, the mind is also a vessel which we fill. And I, like so many others, was filling mine with distractions.
The Value of Space
When I worked hard and played hard I would pay other people to take care of my space. In retrospect, I find that this created a distance between myself and my things. I began to realize that I didn’t value the space I was in enough to tend to it. To nurture it. I had lost the connection to my space. And I had also lost perspective on the money I earned which supported my space.
In short, my job/career had become a chore. Why? Because I wasn’t happy in my space and I thought that filling my space with “stuff” would make me happier. In short, it didn’t. I indeed had to lose almost everything to understand and appreciate that it was the space, not the objects, I loved.
In the quiet times, after work and between the times I tend to my space, it occurred to me that the more I observe past versions of myself I can see that I was ignoring a major truth which was underlying my life’s superficial circumstances. And that truth was that everything I perceive with my physical senses held my attention and filled the empty spaces of my mind. Just like the things with which I decorate my house. That’s when I realized that I am actually learning how to navigate through the empty spaces of my mind as well as the empty spaces of my surroundings.
Dimensions of Space
The empty space in which we operate in our physical world seamlessly pairs with the people we are in the spaces of our mind’s world. Realizing this provides us with a more robust understanding of who we are as a being operating in various “dimensions” of “space.”
Just take a quick look around you and you’ll learn a lot about how you value these spaces.
It seems that I’ve come to realize that now I’m happy in the space I’m in. Physically and personally happy. In stark contrast to before my marriage ended, my happiness no longer depends on anyone else in any way. And this alone is inspiring, if not also a bit intimidating. It is inspiring to set new goals for the new spaces I wish to create. And it’s inspiring for when a time comes that someone comes along who may want to join me in my space. But it’s intimidating because it’s all me now.
But things seem different now. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, including myself. I simply want to reach my goals for the personal satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment, they bring.
Which Brings Me To…
It is from this place that I now introduce you to the next installment of the “Cage of Souls” literotica series, “Fear and Fate”. It takes place just as I realize that everything I’ve ever encountered or dreamed about is just another version of me that is guiding me to something that I have yet to notice.