*Dear elephant reader: if you’re single & looking for mindful dating or conscious love, try out our lovely partner, MeetMindful.
A few years ago I lost myself.
Little by little I dropped pieces of myself all over dirt roads and parts of me were swept away by harsh uncaring winds.
Usually I would try to gather the pieces up and quickly put myself back together before anyone noticed.
But, looking back I remember watching with disinterest as my ball of wool unraveled.
In the midst of it I read something that said, “You’re never as free as when you’re lost.”
I thought about that for many days. The words resounded in my mind.
Was I actually free and not lost after all? I most definitely didn’t feel free.
I felt like a chaotic mess. The only freedom I felt was free falling into a vortex that had no ladder, no rope and no light to guide my return.
Paulo Coelho says, “At every moment of our lives we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.” I felt as though both of my feet were firmly in the abyss and the fairy tale I had always dreamed of was a cruel trick told to vulnerable minds.
I often thought, “This too shall pass.” Although, it didn’t just pass.
Dark clouds lingered above and they weren’t blowing away on their own.
So I chose to take action and fix things myself. I knew no one else was coming to my rescue so I had to carefully glue myself together and make plans to find the fastest route out of there.
I started to realise that my life had just been drifting along. It wasn’t heading in any particular direction and I was unsure of my future plans. I felt as though what I was doing had no meaning in the world and I was wholly irrelevant among the seven billion people I shared the planet with.
The reason for this was that my life had no purpose and the stones I stepped on were not leading to bridges that reached the bigger picture.
Then I stumbled upon a quote that finally made sense:
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Although it seems drastic, it took being lost and reaching rock bottom for me to dissect my life, connect the dots and begin to understand what I wanted.
I started to see that I was feeling lost simply because I didn’t know where I was going. It was nothing to do with where I was in that moment.
In looking at how I felt lost, I became painfully aware of all that was wrong in my life. I was so fueled with despair that my daily existence had become unbearable. I knew I had to make great changes.
I discovered that it wasn’t the situation I was in that was causing these uncomfortable feelings, it was my attitude towards them. That was the first thing I changed. And I changed it instantly.
Everything alters when we alter our perception.
I stopped judging myself and berating myself for where I was and I let go of caring about what others thought of me too. The heaviness that weighed down on me because I was worrying about the opinions of others was a big part of what was keeping me stuck.
It was stopping me from doing what I truly wanted to do and it stopped me from taking the reins of my life so that I could swap directions and go where I wanted to go…instead of where I was being led to.
I let go, let go and let go. I let go of the fear of failure, the fear of being judged and the fear of succeeding.
All of my fears were feeding the hungry wolf in my mind.
The wolf was overfed and so it had become overwhelmed and lazy.
I realized I wasn’t lost on the outside. I was lost on the inside.
The unsettled and anxious way I had been feeling was simply my soul alerting me to my inner compass that would navigate the way home.
I started to understand that I didn’t need to have firm control over what was happening in my life. I just needed to know which direction I wanted to go and begin to head there. Outer circumstances would always shake me and uproot me slightly. All that mattered was that if I was knocked down or swept off course, I could reflect, get back up and keep walking.
When in the middle of a tornado we can’t see clearly what is happening. However, it doesn’t mean that the tornado won’t pass so that we can soon see with clarity again.
I just needed to learn patience, understanding, acceptance and have faith that everything that I was going through was not going to last forever. I needed to breathe through the moments without clinging to what had come before or what may happen in the future.
I had to learn to trust in the process, knowing that whatever it is I was being shown was necessary for me to learn a little more about myself or about others and the world around me.
I had to stop repeatedly asking, “Why is this happening to me?” and instead remain still while I asked, “How best can I handle this?”
I found courage and the strength needed to have faith that everything that was happening was meant to happen to teach me what I still needed to know. When I didn’t listen the same things would occur over and over again. This was one of the biggest lessons I learned, that I had to pay attention to everything around me and absorb as much from it as I could to equip me for the future.
I stopped holding onto regrets and “what if’s?” and “I should have…” and instead I changed the records to, “Now I see things more clearly,” and, “I’m a slightly different person now than I was before this.”
I forgave myself quickly and loved and comforted myself instead of feeling angry and frustrated at what I had allowed to happen or what I may have caused.
I transformed with every moment that passed rather than feeling trapped in an open cage too scared to fly out.
It no longer mattered what my circumstances were on the outside. All that mattered was how I viewed them, learned from them and how I altered my perception so that I saw the path I needed to be heading along.
I started to wander and roam freely, knowing I was somewhat lost, but that it was okay to be lost.
I began to finally see it was not the destination that was relevant, as ultimately I may never get there. What matters most is the journey that leads me there and to expect there will be many dark paths, twists and sharp bends along the way.
Fear casts shadows to block the view.
I removed the fear and I saw things clearly.
Eventually, I thought back to the words, “You’re never as free as when you’re lost.”
I realized that no truer words had ever been written.
All I had to do was accept that I was always going to be a little lost and the freedom was found when I finally acknowledged, “Yes, I’m lost. I’m Okay.”
Knowing we are lost gives us freedom to wander unknown roads with the faith we can’t ever lose our way home.
Home is within us. It only takes a second to find it once we know where to look.
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski