“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
What is the meaning of life? For many of us the meaning of life involves marriage, a house, a job, two kids and a dog. But what about those of us who derive our meaning from something else, but we aren’t exactly sure yet what that something is.
Today I walked to Starbucks to get a Latte (of course the type of coffee is irrelevant). On my way home all I could think was, “How the f*** did I get here and how do I get out”? I live in the suburbs. I live in a really nice, pretty, comfortable suburb with trees and parks and sidewalks and families and kids and dogs. This place is almost exactly like the place I grew up.
The problem is that I don’t fit in here. I don’t have a husband or a kid or even a dog. I can barely keep my plants alive. I don’t go to weekend cookouts with other couples (since I’m not in a couple). I don’t go watch my kids play soccer or take them to play dates. My days are not filled with the responsibilities of parenting, nor do I want them to be. Not having children was my choice, yet I’m left quite separated from everyone else that lives here.
Suddenly ever day has become a chore. Living here makes me feel like I’m in a prison of my own making. What I realized is that it isn’t the suburbs so much as it is my life. The problem is the life I’m living. The life I have created (or more aptly ended up in) has no meaning to me anymore.
The things that used to be tolerable and give me some happiness (happy hours with friends, laying by the pool, living in my cute little neighborhood, sitting on my patio) no longer bring me any joy. Those things now leave me feeling empty and searching for more.
So, I ask myself how I got here and how do I get out? Do you find yourself asking the same questions? If so, you are not alone you can be assured.
I’m probably feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I live in a nice apartment, I make good money and I have all the basics and everything I need. But, I think it’s more than that. When something is no longer right you feel it in your gut.
All these things that I have. The safety, the apartment, the suburbs and the comfortable little world I have created no longer fulfil me. The tree lined streets with families and strollers and dogs and coupleness is not where I belong. Suddenly what used to feel comfortable feels like torture. Every day that I wake up I think, “How much longer do I have to do this.”
We go through ebbs and flows in our lives. For me, I am again existing. There is nothing worse to me than existing. Life is too short to merely exist. We were meant to live our lives. We were meant to find beauty and happiness and peace and none of those things are here. We were not meant to merely exist.
I’m sure many will say that I need to find peace within myself because no matter where you go there you are. Yes, this is quite true. The thing is I have come to know myself quite well. I do not desire change to get away from myself. I do not desire change to find something outside of myself.
I desire change and adventure because it feeds my soul. The need for change lives within me and drives me as a human being. It always has. When I was a child I wanted to do everything the minute I could do it. I wanted to conquer things and explore and do things that not everyone would do.
I moved out of my house at sixteen years old. When I was twenty eight I packed my one bedroom apartment into two suitcases and moved to Switzerland. At thirty two I married a man from another country who was 12 years my junior and eventually moved to Greece.
I have traveled through most of Europe, ridden down The Death Road on a Mountain bike in Bolivia, drank caiprinhas on the beach in Rio, smoked cigars in the Plaka in Athens, bought a $700 leather jacket in Argentina (because I was too embarrassed to put it back when I realized it was US dollars and not pesos and it was super cold outside) and these are the things I remember. These moments are the things that make me proud and these are the experiences that will go with me to my deathbed.
So, it is time again. It is time for me to change and move forward and do something that will launch me into the unknown and into a world that is uncomfortable and scary. But, to me that is the only way to live. Comfort kills my soul in the same way that change feeds it.
Perhaps it was the pain of abuse. Perhaps I need to live in a certain state of pain to feel like I am alive. If so, I’m okay with that realization. I don’t hurt anyone and I certainly don’t hurt myself.
The question then becomes what do we all want our lives to be? How do you create this life?
If you think about it, maybe your life doesn’t suddenly get created. Maybe you change all the time and the key is recognizing that things that used to work no longer do and the job that used to be acceptable is now making you miserable.
There is nothing wrong with realizing you are no longer happy with your life. There is nothing wrong with wanting change and wanting something different. Life is not meant for you to live in a stagnant pond of murkiness.
I guess you have to start by asking yourself what is important to you. What motivates you as a human being? If you’ve been depressed most of your life this can be a really hard question to answer.
It doesn’t matter how I got here. What matters is where I’m going next. What’s important to me won’t be important to everyone else. It doesn’t matter how you got to where you are it matters where you go next. What do you need to be happy?
What I need is adventure and travel and growth. I need to be uncomfortable because that is how I grow and that is how I feel alive. What do you need? What makes you feel alive?
They have done multiple studies about death and dying. One of the main regrets people have when they are close to death is that they did not take more chances. People don’t regret mistakes. They don’t regret the choices they made, but they all regret the things they didn’t do and the choices they didn’t make.
I can’t tell you what you need or what you should want. I can only tell you that if one day you wake up and you say to yourself, “How the F*** Did I Get Here” there is a way to get out. There is a way to recreate yourself. Find out what you need and want and go do it.