I was once told that I would "never be happy". It was not a passing comment, or a prediction, it was just a factual statement told to me by someone who knew me well and who was trying to make me understand. Understand why I was always frustrated and anxious, why I could never relax, be satisfied, be content.
Content. That is a state of being I have never mastered. Always looking forward, wanting more, planning something, daydreaming of what could be. A dreamer, yes, but a functional dreamer. A girl who could work 40 hours at a soul-sucking job and seem completely at ease in the world, all while feeling completely empty inside.
In my 20's. . .oh my 20's. . .I heard so often, from everybody. . ."you'll grow out of it". Grow out of what? My dreams? My wanderlust? My hunger for the new, the weird, the fascinating? It was always there. I gave in, occasionally, and went off to Spain, to Latin America, to Africa. Never for long, never as long as I wanted. I always came back, fearful, scared, unsure. Surrounded by people who didn't understand, didn't get it, just didn't think like me. It was before social media, before you could sit down and search in Facebook for "Wanderlust" and instantly be connected to 10,000 people around the world who also googled searched flights to India just for fun. No, back then you had to meet people the old-fashioned way, and the people I met had mortgages and kids and blouses from Ann Taylor and my conversations with them were forced and unnatural. When I did meet someone who understand, when I found a kindred spirit, I tended to jump, attach, seek fulfillment, declare them soulmates, blind to anything else.
The mistakes made. The emotions wasted. The path that brought me here.
"You will never be happy."
Recently, I read a book about creativity, and the author shared her belief that ideas - ideas for books, art, poetry, movies, whatever - that ideas exist outside of humanity and sort of float around aimlessly until they find a suitable vector, a physical being to inhabit in order to make itself a reality. If the physical being does not recognize this idea and does not allow it to manifest itself, to come into creation. . .in other words, if the chosen human does not write that book or create that art installation, the idea will pick up and leave, will float around, will find someone else.
At the time, I thought that was the dumbest thing I have ever read, but obviously it has stuck with me, except for me, it's not an idea or inspiration that inhabited me. . .it was this feeling, this notion, this energy, this drive, this absolute truth that I was meant for other things. For great things. For adventure. For a creative life. For far-reaching connections with humanity. For a different path, the rocky uneven path through the heart of the rainforest. The things that excited me, that thrilled me, that awakened me. Where I was natural, where I shined. Where I was surrounded by people who felt the same way.
I was inhabited by an all-encompassing hunger for the unknown.
This spirit, energy, whatever you want to call it, dwelt with me for years. It gave me every chance to embrace it, pursue it, manifest it. I never did.
Now it is gone. I awoke one morning a couple of months ago and felt its absence. At first, I thought it would be back, that it had just shrunk down, maybe cocooned itself for a bit. But no, it's gone.
I'm fine. That dull, meaningless word. Fine. I'm not happy or unhappy. I just am. Is this contentment? Folding laundry on a Saturday morning? No plans, no one to talk to, no excitement in the day? No longing to take out a kayak and lose myself in the mangroves? No wistful glances at my dust-covered passport? Drinking coffee, walking the dogs, going through the motions, no real desire for anything?
"You will never be happy."
Maybe he was right. Maybe this is as good as it gets for me. It's not depression, it's more an acceptance of what life is and what it will be. 38, kid, mortgage, 9-5 job, pets, bills, car, packing lunches, driving to school. Debt. Home repairs, dryer making a weird sound, broken glass in the door, kitchen needs new caulking, pressure washing, toilet scrubbing, on-call, work, life.
"You'll grow out of it" - No, I didn't grow out of anything. The "it" outgrew me. The "it" got tired of waiting. The "it" moved on to someone else.
I hope it moved onto my child. If Max ever comes to me, with a light in his eyes, and says to me, "Mom, I don't know what to do, I'm just not happy, I want to. . .go somewhere. . .try something new. . .this just isn't me". . .I will look at him and say just one word. The word I wish I would have heard a million times over. The word that should have been my mantra. The word that can set you free.