An Anxious Contentment

I've been at a loss this past year. I feel like I am drifting, not quite living life to the fullest. A good way to describe it is content, yet anxious.

It seems I've always had something to rally for. I'd tell myself, "I will get that degree" or  "I will do everything in my power to ." I know I've mentioned before about having that small and quietly determined voice saying, "Do it now! There is not much time." Sometimes these goals were positive things brought about by negative situations. Sometimes they were long-term while other times they were immediate. But always, there was something major that needed doing right now.

I spoke about this with a friend. She mentioned a book entitled "The Rhythm of Life: Living Everyday with Passion and Purpose" by Matthew Kelly. She explained that for one to feel fulfilled in life, one must use their talents, have their physical and emotional needs met, and fulfill their  inner drive. When these three come together, a purpose and goal, or reason for living is discovered.

The theory makes sense.

I've known from an early age that my talent is in art. I have other talents – not as finely honed – such as listening, spiritual awareness, curiosity, a passion for fairness and justice, an interest in biology and science, etc.

My needs are the same as those put forth by Maslow: physiological needs, safety, belongingness & love, esteem, a need to know and understand, aesthetic needs, self-actualization, and transcendence.

Maslow Heirarchy of Needs is divided in two areas: deficiency needs and growth needs.  Deficiency needs one level needs to be met prior to the next being achieved. For example physiological needs need to be met before one can feel safe, a secure and safe environment is required to feel and give love, etc.  After the basic deficiency needs are achieved, one can begin to grow spiritually.

Basic needs were a struggle throughout my life, as it is for all of us. We get stuck. I was glued to simple emotional safety for far too long. I think it stunted me in many ways. I couldn't go on to the next step of the pyramid. When I did, I would get figuratively kicked back down and have to start over, but every time that happened it took longer to climb up to the next level.

In my life right now, everything is quiet. My home is peaceful. I live in a safe neighborhood. I have food when I am hungry. There is money in the bank. I have a good, long-term job doing something I enjoy and am good at. Along with those things comes security. Security is basically all I've ever wanted.

The thing is, there is more than just having basic needs met. At 47 (and a half, lol) I've just now had these basic requirements met. So I am comfortable. Yet, I am so used to being anxious and worried that even in the midst of this contentment I am hungering for there to be more to life – and this is where the lost and drifting part comes in.

Right now, it is a desire, or inner drive, that is missing. I don't know what I want. I've achieved these goals that once seemed so lofty, albeit, simplistic. I don't have those primal rallying points to go after through anger or anxiety or need. So.....

What is my purpose? Why am I here? Is this all there is to life?

The answer has to be no. I'm looking to my faith to answer those questions. Answers to those questions haven't yet coalesced into a feeling I can articulate, so I drift onward.

The  bible says, "
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."     Matthew 5:13–16
Does this mean that I am to take this contentment and show others who are struggling that there is a way out of the current life they lead? That there is hope for a different life? How can I do this using my talents? Do I just offer them up to God and see what direction he sends me? Or, do I need a more specific purpose?

Tich Nhat Hahn, a Buddist monk living in France, spoke about cultivating our deepest desire. He says that we all have something we wish to aspire to and isn't until we realize what will fulfill that life desire that we become enlightened.

When enlightenment occurs, it is like the fulfillment a happily pregnant woman feels. She doesn't have to constantly remind herself that she is pregnant. Every moment whether awake or sleeping is filled with the knowledge that she is carrying a child.

So it is with our purpose. It is like a seed, once it begins to grow, it is as if it has always been there. You can't remember a time when it wasn't there.  It has ALWAYS been with us. It is only that the knowledge was in the depths of our unconscious. We have a purpose whether we are aware of it or not.

One way, he goes on, that we do not yet know our purpose is because everything is a struggle. It takes effort, we lack concentration during our everyday tasks. We lack focus and attention. Like the pregnant mother analogy, once we have our purpose within us, we will do everything to nurture that life. It becomes effortless because we are being mindful about something other than ourselves.

With all these thoughts, I go to pray, and listen, and search, and drift.