“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” – Confuscious
Finding and getting what you want is not what we have been taught. Tireless pursuit, self sacrifice, SMART goals and 10 year plans whilst they have their uses, can lead you on a journey similar to a dog chasing its own tail.
The truth is, that hard work, goals and plans are never the destination, they are the signposts that point the way to the destination. Useful for the traveller so that they know they are travelling in the right direction. Signposts can only ever provide a momentary delight as we notice the clear and meaningful progress towards something more important.
What are we really looking for?
“There are 2 reasons why you don’t know what you want. 1. You already have it. 2. You don’t know your self” – Alan Watts
Interestingly “Know thyself” was the first of the maxims inscribed on top of the temple of Apollo in ancient Greece.
An ancient Sioux story has this to say
The Creator gathered all of Creation and said:
“I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realisation that they create their own reality.”
The eagle said, “Give it to me, I will take it to the moon.”
The Creator said, “No. One day they will go there and find it.”
The salmon said, “I will bury it on the bottom of the ocean.”
“No. They will go there too.”
The buffalo said, “I will bury it on the Great Plains.”
The Creator said, “They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there.”
Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said, “Put it inside of them.”
And the Creator said, “It is done.”
What we want is often very simple, and the truth is we already have it, in fact we were born with it. The answer doesn’t come from doing more in fact it comes from doing less. Or to flip an old saying on its head “Don’t just do something, stand there“. It is about less time spent, pursuing and chasing what is on the outside, and more time to turn our eyes and ears inwardly.
Buddhism and mindfulness talk of the monkey mind jumping from branch to branch and never settling, or an agitated mind, like a body of water stirred so the silt and mud makes the water thick and cloudy. We must be still if we wish to see clearly again, and when we do, the clarity of the water is what we were seeking all along.
That isn’t to say that there are a lot of obstacles in the way. Some of them are actually about what we will leave behind, such as people in our life who may be fearful of our growth and change. Perhaps they will come with us on our journey in their own time, perhaps they will do what they can to prevent us from leaving. We must ask ourselves if that should prevent us from fulfilling how we want to live.
If you find fear, procrastination or feelings of emptiness predictably standing in the way of you and your target destination, then perhaps it is time to listen to listen to and honour the part of yourself that until this moment has yet to be heard.
“My heart is a traitor” the boy said to the alchemist, when they had paused to rest the horses. “It doesn’t want me to go on”
“That makes sense” the alchemist answered. “Naturally it’s afraid that in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.”
“Well then. Why should I listen to my heart?”
“Because you’ll never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.”
An excerpt from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The challenge in finding what you want doesn’t come from setting goals and managing projects, people and deadlines, it is in the patience and compassion to sit with our self and become better acquainted with the parts of the self that we don’t have a clear voice with yet. And it is also in the courage to then take action and grow and change despite what we might leave behind.
You already have what you want.
Finding it is not a process driven by doing but a process of being.
About the Author
Tom Powell is a Wellbeing Coach and climbing coach. He works with people to help them to find their calm so that they can take ownership of situations and of their path through life. Tom lives in Bristol, and delivers coaching sessions in person, and also online, he also is a dedicated coach towards the mental performance of Rock Climbers.