Heart Ki

A Journey of Meaning

sunset through lone tree

My goal in life was never to attend college.

I did attend. I did go through it, and graduate. At 18, I didn’t have any specific ideas, passions, or definitive interests, regarding the path I wanted to take.

Life wasn’t just going to stand still, on hold, waiting for me to come up with alternatives out of the blue, at some indeterminate time. I had to choose some path. University was the logical and almost necessary step after high school. So that’s what I chose.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t reject my past. I’m proud of having gone through it. I’m glad of having the experience under by belt, including the working time in the years that followed. It put me under many challenges and lessons, without which I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

But given the chance to go back in time, under the same circumstances, I wouldn’t choose the same.

Today I know that having a diploma, a certificate, and wander the world branding it, being in that sort of mindset, not only was never my idea of accomplishment, but it was meaningless.

It’s not that courses in University are meaningless in themselves. It’s just that such particular life choice was/is meaningless to me.

To me, my goal in life is — and always was — to live a life that fits me and that I want to live.

When I was little and people asked me what I wanted to be, I’d always answer: “I want to be happy”. Quite generic, right?

But today I can explain what I meant.

I meant that I wanted to live a life of my own. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to make my own choices without being restrained by someone else’s interests, or leverage, or pressure, in any way shape of form.

I wanted to be able to pay attention to the things I wanted to, for as long as I did. I wanted to live with someone I was comfortable with and made me feel free in a practical sense — either that, or be alone. I wanted to have my own hours of the day, my own cycles and natural affinities. I wanted to live life at the pace I wanted, with the degree of “complication” I wanted.

Of course, this also included the type of field I wanted to work, in a professional sense.

This last point wasn’t part of the equation when I was 18. But it is now. And I know now, that part of that life I wanted to live would have to include devoting to that field of interest, and spend zero time in any other.

Material goals, things, objectives, as the stereotypical saying goes, are not sources of meaning/happiness in themselves. You don’t get eternal bliss by buying the new car, getting in the new relationship, getting the new paycheck.

Okay, maybe a little. Reaching objectives, and being proud of yourself for doing so, is nice, of course. They are milestones.

But they either belong to a context of meaning to you — or they’re part of a scenario where you’re chasing the shadows and trinkets, badges and trophies. And where you “have” to do that, or you think you need to. But without any actual inner meaning or direction from inside.

It’s like driving your car with the objective of passing specific traffic lights. When you drive you’re generally going to a specific destination. And you go through whatever traffic lights happen to be in your path. But there’s an overall meaning about the journey. You’re going somewhere.

Now if you were to focus too much on the traffic lights themselves as the objectives of the journey, after a while you’d get lost. You’d forget where you were going. Or where you wanted to go. Or, that there was a point to the trip in the first place.

Instead, you’d just be craving to reach the next traffic light. The next traffic light. The next traffic light.

Chasing external things, by itself, is futile, shallow. It has you run around in circles. It leads nowhere.

But living a live that is your own is a worthwhile goal. It’s not a goal as in a finish line that you cross once, and you earn a piece of bliss forever. It’s a goal as in a sweet spot: one you work to reach, and to remain there.

Objects and things can be a part of that sweet spot. Material things are not incompatible or opposite to inner meaning. You are also material. You have a material body. You need sustenance, and you have can abundance, fun, enjoyment, with things in matter. That’s fine.

It’s the identification with things and external goals, and the urge and hurry to get them, as if they hold the answer, that’s what can make you forget about your own inner self, your own inner sense of life. That’s when you lack direction, and you simply go after the lights.

But those same things, and goals, can be a part of the greater ride, part of your sweet spot. Part of the journey – a journey you choose.

That’s what is meant by “happiness is in the journey, not the destination”. It means that you don’t get meaning/happiness from the objectives themselves, but by living in a overall context of meaning, of which those objectives can be a part of.

The first concern in your life is not getting an education, or getting a graduation. It could be your second or third, perhaps. But not the first.

Your very first concern should be to be aware of who you are, and the kind of life you want to live in.

And then, to take steps to move towards it.

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