Just under the surface of our conscious minds, while embroiled in the busyness of our modern lives, we are all harboring a vague discomfort premised on a terrifying possibility – that we will one day be standing at death’s door, where we will realize that we’ve squandered our one chance at living. That we have sacrificed our time and energy in pursuit of distractions, rather than the pursuit of our true passions. That we have mis-lived in a sense, by failing to live fully. That we have focused on doing what was expected of us (what we expected of ourselves), rather than what we truly wanted, thereby wasting this magnificent opportunity. This discomfort often culminates in what we call, colloquially, a mid-life crisis, although it arises at other times as well, often following a death, a loss, or betrayal of some kind. It bubbles up in the form of a question:
Is this it? Is this all there is to life?
This question nags at us frequently, especially during bouts of insomnia, or after the high of attaining some milestone has subsided. But the fear of change, and the uncertainty of where to seek that change, keep us locked in place most of the time. If, however, the grief or pain of loss is acute enough, such that the fears become relatively insignificant by comparison, then the real search begins for the more. That’s when we develop the capacity to ask the really hard, scary, existential questions, to look inward with honest eyes, and find the transcendentally meaningful answers.