Living Life Without Meaning (…Kinda Sorta)

There’s a deep regret I feel for not having truly lived life. For having jettisoned, ignored, lost touch with an ideal process of thought that I spent years cultivating based on reading inspiring texts (The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, Zen Guitar,  and Siddhartha, for example), attending spiritual masses (at the Agape International Spiritual Center), and simply being free from fear. Instead of maintaining this process of thought, I’ve unconsciously (and other times, very well aware) opted for an easier and wasteful feeling of sadness and debilitation. I’ve spent hours pondering what I should be doing instead of focusing on what I am doing. I’ve spent days considering my options only to rationalize my way into choosing none. It’s a theme that doesn’t exist every day, but it certainly never disappears.

Over the past year and a half, I have been stuck in one of these phases of fear and debilitation. Unable to see the truth or to make decisions based on positive progression or genuine fulfillment, I have wasted opportunities, relationships, and experiences because my mind has been more focused on what each moment meant than simply living it. Meaning doesn’t reveal itself in the moment though. It comes only from deep reflection and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. In these moments, I’m stuck. Often thinking, “If I am unable to understand what this means for me, for my story, then what exactly am I supposed to do with it? How do I process its place in my soul’s journey?” While I’m spending my moments pondering that thought, I am missing what’s right in front of me: Life.

When those moments have passed, I find myself reflecting on inconsistent feelings of love and emptiness, depth and waste; I descend into a state of shear ambivalence. I’m unable to sift through and find the truth – which was there all along, but I didn’t pay attention to in the moment. I find myself longing for feelings that never actually existed, romanticizing relationships that were all but romantic. Do I miss her? Or do I miss the feeling of missing her? Of just having someone to miss?

My therapist once asked me if there is anyone I’ve dated that I look back on and think, “That could have worked.” At the time he asked me this Pandora’s Box of a question, I felt firm that, no, there was not. I know he wasn’t looking for an answer then. He was looking to plant a seed. And that seed has grown into a veritable apple tree of past girlfriends and lovers and crushes and admirers. I pluck one and take a few bites, chewing voraciously on each sinew and morsel of the relationship, and by the time the core and stem are the only pieces left, I come to a different conclusion than I had in that therapy session, but the same for every single woman: Maybe. Again with the ambivalence. Does that mean I wasn’t trying hard enough with each of them? Was it simply a compatibility issue? Is there something wrong with me? Am I undateable? Unlovable? Incapable of loving? Or is it just that I haven’t met the right woman yet? I hope it’s the latter, but the older I get, the more I feel it’s a combination of all of it. And that frightens me. Perhaps I am deficient in some way. Scarred by an overthinking brain, a quenchless soul that always seeks more, a constant fear of doubt, and irrational insecurity that exhausts the mind and body. This would be a sad reality.

Since I began writing this post in August 2015, I’m happy to say I’ve made some hefty adjustments in my process. I began laying out ideas for change. Change based in love, not fear, change that I truly wanted, change that I felt would benefit my life long-term and open me up to unforeseen opportunities. The hard part was figuring out exactly what I wanted to do next. While I pondered that overwhelming thought, I asked myself many questions and dove deeply into my life desires. I’ll share this process along with specific questions I asked myself in a later post, but the gist is, I stopped asking myself why I was doing what I was doing and what it all means, and instead asked myself why I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live.

Now that I’ve sold, donated, and stored all my stuff, moved out of my apartment, left my city, left my routine, and begun a four-month trip around the world, I find myself (finally) stepping out of the boat of doubt. I am combating that deep regret head on. But, sweet merciful crap, it ain’t easy.