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Everyone wants to wake up in the morning and be excited to go to work and refreshed from a peaceful night’s sleep. We want to feel loved and supported by the people around us and love them very much in return. We don’t want to have to worry about money on a day to day basis, we want to include a few extras in our lifestyle without struggling for survival. We want to feel purpose and peace in our lives, without sacrificing passion.

It seems to be asking for a lot, but really no more so than what every human being is worthy of. I hesitate to say, “deserves,” or “is entitled to,” because certainly these elements of life don’t come together without some serious effort and commitment on the part of the person. If these things were handed to us, perhaps we wouldn’t value them as much. And none of these aspects is a given, and I dare to say, can’t be successfully pursued, until a bit of self knowledge is in place to give aim to our efforts. Notwithstanding the power of serendipity, and the fact that we often are poor predictors of what will make us happy.  But I believe, if we take a step towards something we value and believe in, other things will fall into play.

I’ve been searching my heart and travelling the world to find the set of circumstances that will make me happy and put my heart at peace. I see no problem with endless roaming and discovery, to me, is the spice of life, and exploration a worthy end in itself, however I feel that to have the life I just described, other things need to come into the picture, like commitment, and a bitof stability, be it internal or external.  In fact, I think for the prepared mind, a lifestyle like the one predicted above would alternately read, from the perspective of the inner life of the happy and contented person, something more like:

I can’t wait to see what will happen next.  I’m on to such big things in my life and my work.  I wonder how my mother, father, sister, friend, spouse is doing and how I can help them today. Things are great now, but the best is yet to come in my life. I wonder what I’ll learn today.

I think that’s what makes a life genuinely worth living, a sense of gratitude, service, connectedness, appreciation AND exploration.  If we can remain curious, we can retain some childlike joy in our lives no matter the age, no matter how many bills to pay and people to take care of, or so I pray. I do believe, and pray, that for people who love what they are doing, from being with their spouse, to working at their job, to being part of a community organization, all that effort is a kind of play, inherently rewarding, and what’s more, commitment is seen as a privilege and not a burden. It is a promise of more good things to come, and maybe bad things as well, but a relief, a reassurance that something you love isn’t going away and all you have to do is pour your whole heart into it in return. Not that you shouldn’t pour your heart into every breath of this transient existence, but there’s a difference between excellence and commitment in marriage or for a professional sport and going to a trial yoga class or meeting someone from down the hall. Yes, we should be present and engaged, and don’t think too much of the future or the expected “return,” on our efforts in either direction, but the reality of the situation is different. To fail to recognize that is not engagement and openheartedness but just confusion.  But to become a great yogi or make a lifelong friend, you have to be open to wonder and excitement during that first class and be willing to be a friend to someone you’ve just met. So maybe it’s not about holding back in uncertain situations, but turning happenstance into a stable, committed relationship.

I’ve been thinking my noggin in circles about the relationships between work, life, and love and TRAVEL, how the love of exploration seems to both renew and complicate things. I’ve been afraid to commit in the past and thought that was a personal defect, but I think it may have had to do more with situations that weren’t right for me and not knowing myself well enough. In the future, I hope to make meaningful commitments, based on principle as much as pleasure to get me through the tough times, keeping a playful attitude to prevent any routine from becoming hackneyed and boring. In work and in relationships, I think love is about more than the initial spark of passion, and that difficulties actually help to sustain passion but requirement commitment to get through.

Contemplating the possibility of more travel, which I do want, and do recognize that in the rhythm and cycle of life conventional wisdom says to do sooner rather than later, and commitment in relationships, which seems to require a certain amount of stability in oneself, as well as an open and adventuring heart, I felt frustrated. Now I’m beginning to see how commitment and curiosity don’t cancel each other out,  just as passion and long term love aren’t mutually exclusive either. Besides, life is a voyage, if only of the contemplative self.  The interior journey isn’t easy, vain, or fruitless.  Without it, our everyday selves and what we do from moment to moment would lack alignment and through us off kilter. For real continuity leading to mastery and requiring discipline, the willingness to examine and change is required. Rigor is not just in overcoming obstacles, but in choosing the path that takes us to them.

Oftentimes, we commit to larger principles where we might not even see progress, or will see progress so infinitesimal in our whole lifetimes it may seem insufficient and our efforts totally in vain. Efforts like the environment spring to mind. But in our individual lives as well, change can be slow and we can get stuck in a rut. The path is not always clear, we can lack energy for the journey, tired and heartsore. But as Martin Luther King Jr said:

If you can’t fly, then run,

If you can’t run, then walk,

If you can’t walk, then crawl,

but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.

Peace to all my brothers and sisters, of every nation, creed, and personal path.