IT ALL STARTED WHEN...
In my late 30s everything seemed to be working for me. I was married in 1996 for over 10 years. I had a good job teaching at a good liberal arts college and my wife at the time was an ordained Episcopal priest. But then things began to shift: at first the tremors were mild but soon gave way to full on earthquakes that hit one after another for months. I had several near-death experiences, was struck by lightening on my bike, a diving accident. I got a life threatening disease and what I thought was a solid marriage turned into bread on the water.
Things were disintegrating and quickly.
Looking back I realized that my destiny was calling me to a more authentic life--one in which my passions and commitments could join each other for the first time.
At first I resisted. Oh, did I resist. I wanted to remain safe, locked inside my comfortable life teaching, writing and being a father to my sons. But this safe-box had unwittingly become my prison in which my zeal for life had long dried up like the desert. My heart had stopped beating.
Over the past several years, I'm 46 now, I have finally accepted my destiny to find happiness. My ego had for so long gotten in the way of experiencing joy and learning to accept myself--to love myself.
I admit learning to love myself remains a challenge: growing up a Calvinist Christian engrained in me the idea that I sucked and was doomed to the ravishes of arbitrary bumblings.
Another challenge for me wasn't so much about making money to survive, but accepting and respecting myself.
To avoid taking care of myself I dove headlong into many shallow relationships thinking that if someone else loved me it was going to pull me through and give me peace and confidence. I also started drinking and smoking to numb me from feeling the pain of self-hatred. Drinking, smoking and sex were for me a great tactic of divergence.
It wasn't until I learned to see why I loved desperately, drank without consequences, and smokedthat change started happening. What was driving me to try to fill the void of shame inside me?
At the same time, I got into ultrarunning (running super long distances--30-40-100 miles at a time). Running for me became a form of meditation, but this too was an act of literally running away from myself. Don't get me wrong, running is amazing and the high you get from it is unparalleled, but the reason why I ran didn't line up with what my deep-self needed nor wanted.
I had to stop and develop healthy habits such as meditation, art, writing, and good relationships with boundaries. And this was the hardest part of my journey thus far and I still have problems facing the fear of my true desires and passions.
Today, I am finding that happiness isn't about what you own, for what you possess also possesses you! Happiness is about living a life that's real and honest learning what triggers you and avoiding those triggers. That's much harder then it sounds.
Happiness is about being around people with positive energy that respects who you are and loves you for what you love.
Today, I'm much better off but I still have a lot of work to do. But this work for me has become a consistent action that finds joy and the occasional pain that can knock you on your ass when you least expect it.
The habits of running, meditation, and reading and composing positive stories has formed a firm-enough foundation on which I am discovering but haven't mastered balance.
The journey continues but at least now I am free to discover my infinite self, knowing how to gain balance even if balance remains forever illusive.
The journey doesn't have a destination, the destination is the journey itself.