I read recently that the human drive, one of the characteristics that separates us from all other living things, is constantly chasing something. It’s one of the reasons we’ve survived this long. We, by instinct, are always looking for the next way to make our lives better, that’s the basis of how we innovate forward. It’s also one of the reasons we never feel satisfied and why our lives are laden with stress. Sarah Wilson in First, We Make the Beast Beautiful, calls this looking for “The Something Else”.
I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t looking for “The Something Else”. I’ve made a life’s career of it. Sarah notes it’s a characteristic of the anxious. I’m so curious if that is true. If you are not by nature anxious, are you not always chasing the next thing? Of course life always throws you challenges, but is normal life actually peaceful for you on a day to day basis? Do you live in the moment like all the mindfulness books tell you to?
I have to say that finding writing again for me was a big piece of finding my “Something Else”. It was something that throughout my life, the further I went away from it, the more it called me back. So I have surrendered to the fact that it is a large part of my identity. There were mirages I had been hunting down over time, visions and versions of myself if you will, that never came to fulfillment. I imagined myself as someone who would eventually become glamorous, like turning into the proverbial swan. But the effort behind that persona is something for which I have no energy. My real persona can be best described as “comfortable” and I am everyday closer to being ok with that.
How much of what we are chasing is fed to us over time through cinema, advertising or the constructs of fairy tales? Reality can actually become a very comforting place if we allow it to be. It can be warm, inviting and loving if only we give ourselves permission to be there, awake and aware in the present moment.
Or maybe there is a place for the chase, eventually you find out who you were meant to be. But I have to believe you’ve been led there for most of your life, it’s just a matter of whether or not you were listening.