It occurred to me last night how fortunate I am. I was having a conversation with Doug, the spousal unit and it somehow came around to food. We both agreed at the time we didn’t need any. Our refrigerator and cabinets are packed to the gills with food. We won’t be going hungry any time soon. Later that night as I was washing out the cat’s newly emptied dish, for the first time in my life the question asked itself in a whisper: is this all there is? My material needs are all taken care of. We have everything we need and quite a lot of the things we want. I live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood in one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the country. We have two good cars. Every person in my family has their own computer and smart phone. Our children have plenty of clothing and food. Sure, I could have more money, more stuff, more noteriety and I may yet choose to have those things, but to what end? What purpose would they serve? They aren’t the answer to the question. They won’t fill the hollowness. It all seems pointless when I look at the things we’re supposed to want as modern Americans: we’re supposed to work to make money so we can live in nice houses, have “nice” stuff, do fun things (that don’t seem all that much fun in the actual doing) and pay high fees to send our children to schools to learn to do the same program all over again one generation more. I’ve married and managed exactly that. Now what?
There are plenty who would counsel me to stop questioning before I drive myself mad. I have the things I’m supposed to want and now I should be working on getting more of the same and “planning for the future”. The future what? What’s the point of “future” if it looks pretty much the same as now? There are others who would say “Why, yes indeedy, Missy! This is exactly all there is so better make the best of it!” Except that’s a lie. I know it is. If this is all there is then I wouldn’t be asking the question. It simply wouldn’t be available to ask. And I wouldn’t feel the pull to seek answers I know are there. The ones who would counsel me thus are among those who have given up or have never dared in the first place. My asking the question apparently makes these people uncomfortable. They make light of it or give answers that aren’t well considered in an attempt to shut me up quickly before I infect them.
The thing about giving any attention, even a moment’s worth (Pat Parelli says there are four moments in every second), to the question “is this all there is?” is that no matter what you are compelled to search out the answer. You can’t ignore it. You can’t shut it down or walk away from it. Like a specter it will haunt you, whisper endlessly, sing from the shadows, give you no rest, drive you utterly mad until you give in, surrender, seek. Some of us don’t give in. These are the truly mad ones, though most seem to think them perfectly normal. The grinchy, the bitchy, the fearful, the numb – these have heard the question and ignored it, tried to run away. Some numb out preemptively so as not to hear the question in the first place. They know it’s there, have heard others mention it and figure to head off the madness by making sure they never hear the question for themselves. We have created whole religions in the attempt to stave off the madness of the question, offering different variations on answers that somewhat soothe many and are often of little use to those of us who have entertained the question. The reason most do not hear “the still, small voice” is because we’d rather not for fear of what it may demand of us.
I prefer to live by the addage “follow your heart”. Right now, in this moment, my heart feels still. I can only follow what is moving, right? Or perhaps not. Perhaps what I am to do is follow my heart into the stillness. Maybe in the stillness lies the answer to my questions, which are really only one question. “Is this all there is?” No. But in order to find the answer, to find the meaning behind the otherwise meaningless I’ll have to use my tools differently, turn the gem and peer into another facet or perhaps focus deeply upon the fire in its heart. And I will need to employ tools I already have but have never before used. I am no longer afraid. At least not in the moment. If I pull back and get ahead of or behind where I am then I can become very afraid, worrying over things that have gone by or may never come. I doubt and fear as though these are my natural state of being. When I lose focus and fall out of trust then yes, I am very afraid. Even so, I know with every particle of this being I call “me” that the only way is forward, through the question and the questing. For once you entertain the question there will only ever be the quest.