Some mornings were extremely rough as I woke up to an emotional void. Everything seemed meaningless in the sense that I couldn’t be bothered much, giving it something I had been looking forward to with great excitement or a job’s deadline. I laid in my bed for a good one hour, fishing for thoughts and feelings. And when I couldn’t find a satisfying answer, I went mindless, gazing at the sunlight beaming through the windows blinds and counting time. Then I got up, grabbed my notebook and jotted down my stream of thoughts. Somehow that small act made all the difference; it made me feel alive again.
I always have trouble answering the (cliché) question, ”What gets you out of bed in the morning?”. I used to religiously wake up way before sunrise, meditate, exercise, journal, read and eat breakfast in silence. “Where has that spirit gone off to?”, I wondered.
So I decided to observe people around me, those with goals, plans and motivation, those that show up in life under any circumstances, and especially those that jump out of bed excitedly the second the alarm goes off.
I watch them heading to their finish lines, whatever they set out to achieve. Sometimes they detour, sometimes they completely branch off, but there’s always a finish line to arrive at. One line after another, some go forward, some run in loops, some walk, some race. What happens along the way influences where the finish line would be. A lot of alterations are substantially dictated by career success, peer acceptance, public attention, societal expectations, income, duties, competition, comparison, the idea of leaving a legacy, or one’s ego. A few are driven by tragic life events, spontaneity, curiosity or self-awareness.
I watch some living in a chain of interchangeable days (today is not much different from yesterday), some trying to fill their days up with “pleasure” happiness, and some dutifully taking care of their indistinguishable mass of responsibilities and obligations. Somehow along the race, they lose sight of the very reason why they started it. Some never question why they are here. But I also witness a few whose life couldn’t be more vibrant. What’s the difference? Perspective and intention. The happiest ones bring with them acceptance, perseverance, and inner peace.
I then patiently wait for them at the finish lines with three questions.
- Is this what you want?
- Does it truly make you happy?
- Are all the trade-offs so far worth it?
I look for the calmness in their tone and trace of regrets in their eyes (just out of curiosity). I haven’t found a good enough reason to get to the majority of my finish lines, besides passively reacting to responsibilities, plans or commitments. Sometimes I found myself curled up underneath a blanket, refusing to get out. There was a period when I was doing what I loved, I still repeatedly told my friends, “I’m not ready for tomorrow morning to come at all.” Everything needs a break once in a while, especially those that you love most.
- Yes… I guess.
- Kind of.
- Not really.
Sometimes in the middle of the run, I realized the awaiting arrival had lost its appealing effect. It’s not about getting to the finish line; everyone gets there eventually if they keep moving forward. But I absolutely don’t mind if I never get there. “Enjoy the process, one day at a time.” The finish line is less of a destination and more of a sense of direction. The question is whether the sense is right and strong enough. And acceptance, the ability to accept the reality as is, always plays a vital role. On the other hand, being completely lost has its own blessing.