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October 1, 2021

Why Chasing the “High Moments” of Life leaves us Empty.

Hearted by and 2 other readers

 

I spent much of my 20s chasing the high moments of life, plunging from one thing to another, eager to share victorious triumphs with the world.

The thought of a simple, quiet, consistent life seemed dull. I thought I had to aim big and be “someone” to live a life of meaning. My relentless drive robbed me of the present. I was forever worrying that I would fall behind, fail, or never arrive.

Arrive where? I suppose some mystical imagined place where I lived the “high life” in the distant future.

To say I burned out multiple times is an understatement. I became chronically ill and went through periods of depression and anxiety. Although I took care of myself with exercise, healthy eating, and spiritual development, I didn’t understand why I always felt unwell. I was working so hard yet feeling like it was never enough. 

Slowing down was not on my list of “things to do.”

I always wanted more, to be more, to do more—more, more, more.

I was going about my life in an impulsive, inconsistent way. Sure, I was gaining outward successes, high moments, and ticking things off the list—but at what cost? Because honestly, it cost me more than adding value to my life.

The cost to me personally was my health and an inability to remain consistent when life was unexciting.

I’d quit on things after a while or start something new. As a result, I could not tap in and go deeper with my pursuits, creativity—and within myself. 

If the thrill of something new were gone, I would doubt whether to continue. As the excitement wore off, I’d become bored. But furthermore, I’d find myself anxious by the stillness.

The practice of mastery and committing to things beyond the beginning stages seemed scary to me.

What if I commit for a long time and still never achieve anything? What if I do all of this work, and it amounts to nothing? 

Interestingly, throughout my life, I admired people who were masters at what they do over long periods. Growing up, I loved martial artists, Mozart, Picasso—masters of their trade, of their skill. 

I’ve always preferred to watch people train rather than watch a boxing match. I love the commitment to the everyday battles. Movies and stories about the day in, day out, slugging it out—it moves me to my core. 

But living that kind of life? Yeh, it wasn’t for me.

I was too afraid to take the time to commit to the process—I wanted results, like, yesterday.

And I got results. Always. But it wouldn’t last.

But life has a funny way of consistently showing us the lessons we need to live a fulfilling life if only we lean in and listen. At random checkpoints throughout my journey, I found the times when I was relaxing, hiking, and breathing to be the most informative. When I ventured off to the South of Australia to trek by myself, or I took time out rather than pushing myself harder, or I’d sit on the warm pavers outside with my dog Dakota—these lonesome, quiet, still moments have given more than the highs ever have.

They called me to investigate my methods and actions and explore wholesome living and productive ways. These pockets of stillness reflected to me that I was too busy chasing an illusion and that the life I was seeking exists here and now, in this moment. 

Already.

And I was missing it—all of it—in the hunt for something more, something bigger, something outside of myself. 

Those tranquil times were loud enough (even in their quietness) to jolt me to the core, and I started to ask the questions: why am I going so fast?

Ongoing soul searching, mindfulness practices, walking, pausing—these little things I was doing daily started to carve out a new way of living. A slower, intentional, and consistent way.

Again, the interesting thing is: I didn’t seek out a slower life. Instead, I started allowing room for space and seeing the benefits, which challenged my way of thinking over time. 

The highs would come, but they no longer felt like everything to me. The cool moments still existed, but I also found pleasure in the everyday, unseen, routine things. The moments of slowness no longer felt frightening—I accepted they were part of the process, in fact, I needed them.

We need them.

These days, I hardly think about who or what I want to do in the future—other than living in nature amongst the trees—because I realize this moment is all I have. It’s the moment I need to commit to the most. 

We may think what we do today, as small as it may be, doesn’t mean much. Maybe hardly anyone notices, maybe no one is chanting us daily, or maybe there’s a lack of “thrills.” But if we commit to the processes, focusing on what matters to us and what makes us better, we’ll notice something greater happening.

It’s not an epic moment off in the distance. Instead, our life becomes a series of moments that fulfill us on the inside.

I have found that my life has become less exhausting, more manageable, and I enjoy most days—rather than waiting for “one day” to appreciate what I have, do, or achieve. When anxiety likes to poke in for a visit and suggests I hurry up because I’m going too slow—I remind myself of this quote: 

The last thing to grow on a fruit tree is the fruit.~ Unknown

Where we are right now—matters.

~

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