I’ll be honest with you. I have no idea what I’m doing in my life right now. I’m single, unemployed, and I’ve moved back in with my parents. I have no intention of living in this town or getting a job here, but no clue if I want to move somewhere or travel for a while or get further schooling. I have a degree in English literature and a certificate to teach English in a second language, and absolutely no desire to teach. Everyone keeps telling me my whole life is before me and I have so many options (which is true), but everything I encounter my heart greets with an unequivocal “Meh?” I always thought I’d find something that would leap out and grab me, that I’d have no choice but to devote my life to, that would have everything make sense. But nothing’s appearing. Is this what is meant by a quarter-life crisis?
Lately, however, I’m trying not to mind so much. The one thing I know is a constant in my life, the thing I feel most dedicated to right now, is my spiritual practice. And it so happens that part of the deal with a spiritual practice is learning to let go of all our plans for the future, and our visions of how life should look. Think about it: if you make the decision to walk straight forward into Light, you’re going to have a hard time seeing where you’re going. And that’s scary. No wonder so many of us on a spiritual path go through periods of shielding our eyes or turning our heads or flat out heading in the other direction, where at least the road ahead is visible.
There’s also the added bonus of going against the grain. While it seems everyone else is walking with the sun on their backs, gazing at their goals, their five year plans and security, we’re stumbling into sunlight, palms upwards, asking how we can be of service today. And that earns us some weird looks sometimes.
That said, no one promised me this would be easy. This mind/heart training, this internal shift, this unlearning of everything our culture teaches, it’s hard as hell, and there’s no curriculum. All I can do is trust in the wisdom that lies within me, that refuses to tell me more than what my job is today.
Once the image came to me of Shiva standing me on a tightrope stretched across a lake. He tied my hands behind my back and put a blindfold over my eyes, whispering “Trust me.” I had no choice. I took a step forward, and another, and every time it seemed I would fall I was somehow righted, without a drop of water on my skin. When at last I reached the other bank, my body cracked open like an eggshell, and Shiva stepped out. Because if I let go of my need to control and trust something far greater than myself, the idea of separation disappears. I stop defining myself by what I hope to achieve or who I hope will love me or where I hope to live; in fact, I stop defining myself at all. I give myself away and for a split second am reminded of the truth under everything: that all is one. I don’t belong to myself, we belong to each other. And with that knowledge in mind, the most sensible thing for me to say in the morning seems to be “How can I help today?”
The rest will take care of itself.