Do now or forever live without peace

My recent life’s journey has brought me to Europe. This is no holiday, no vacation, no leisure time, but rather an effort to extract myself from my life, evaluate my decisions, come to terms with my past and my present, search for a path that gives my life deeper meaning, and find peace in my heart. When I made this decision, I packed up a backpack, grabbed my passport, and boarded an airplane half way across the world to go on this so called spiritual quest for myself. I know it sounds like the plot of some empowering chick flick, but something inside me told me and pushed me to just do it; and let’s face it, if I spent too much time dwelling on this decision it may never have happened at all and I very well would still be sitting at home feeling good and sorry for myself that my life just somehow did not go the way I wanted it to go..
Many people have questioned why I have chosen to leave home. Sure, I’ve spent most of my money to do this, sure, I was not entirely organized given my spontaneity and chose to find my way around once I approached a situation, sure, I may find myself getting lost or not understanding the language, sure, there are a thousand things that could go wrong. There is probably a list out there, a good list at that, as to why this decision and its practicality should be questioned. But all the negativity and things that could potentially go wrong were continuously trumped by the fact that I needed to just do it. There was no explanation other than I was tired of planning things out and having them fall through, so I just did it.
The thing is, when it comes to life, the more we plan things, the more we tend to set ourselves up for disappointment. I can safely say that after the previous year, I am the queen of disappointment. A good friend passed away, another good girlfriend broke off our friendship, my professional job is an unpaid internship despite having graduated from university a year and a half ago, I am confronting my alcoholism, my long term partner left me and moved out of our beautiful home that we built together, and my health took a bit of a slip. At the beginning of last year, if someone were to ask me my “plans,” I would have told them I planned on finding a good career, on building up my relationship and friendships, on saving up for some amazing vacation, on maybe buying a car, and just having a lot of fun in general. Instead I ended up a single alcoholic grieving the loss of loved ones, with the biggest health scare of my life, who still is working the job she had in college to pay the bills while juggling it with another unpaid job… Not particularly ideal if you ask me, and I think there are many people out there who would feel that way too.
With that, I opted to begin the new year not planning something, but just doing something. As I’ve learned from my actions and the actions of many, many others, tomorrow rarely comes. We put it in our minds that if we plan something, it will somehow magically appear in our futures with little or no consideration as to how we are going to accomplish this so called plan. The human condition drives us to constantly want and desire, but somehow majority of the people can never seem to transform those wants and desires into reality, no matter how much we tell ourselves that this is the time we will fulfill the plans. We tell ourselves daily that I will do this tomorrow or I will do that next week or next year will be this way. It’s nice to dream and fantasize about a life we want to live, but there are many people who believe that if they think it up, it will just happen, myself included. I think back on all my plans for how my life would be by now, yet I have failed to set forth a path for myself that would allow me to live the life I desired. I’ve wanted to travel all over the world, I’ve wanted to move out of my home city, I’ve wanted some cool job that everyone was envious of, and I’ve wanted to write a book. I look back and find myself disappointed and amazed that my life has not gone down these paths despite how long I‘ve planned on these things happening, but the reality is that I can only blame myself for not doing, only planning.
We many times excuse these behaviors with everyday routine, which tends to get in the way of fulfilling plans, as we find more and more supposed reasons why we should not, although it‘s more like would not, follow through with what we want to do. When it comes down to it, we spend a great deal of time organizing our lives around routines, which helps create stability and comfort. The human race enjoys the comforts of knowing what to expect. People eat the same things because they know they will like it and know that they won’t go hungry. People usually don’t venture too far from their homes, knowing that they have the necessary resources available to them. People continue to work a job they may not like because it means they have enough money to pay their bills, and let‘s face it, there are a lot of people who don‘t like their jobs. These are some of the most common everyday routines people fall into for the sake of comfort, but of course there are a multitude of other routines people fall in to for a multitude of reasons. Unexpected occurrences causes many people stress because of the unsettling feeling of not knowing the outcome of a situation. We tend to forget that humans have the amazing capability of being resourceful, and that in today’s society especially, we have the possibility of solving any situation very easily, and so it becomes illogical for humans feel discomfort when they have fallen out of routine. But no matter what the comfort is and what the reasoning behind it is, ultimately they are all driven by the instinct of fear for our survival.
Fear is somewhat a primitive instinct, especially when we look at today‘s modern first world. Early humans were driven to seek routine as a means of survival, following patterns because doing otherwise may cost someone their life. Today, there are many of us across the globe who have the luxury of a multitude of resources for both survival and pleasure, many of which are available at our fingertips. Modern technology has made it possible to produce enough food and assure that there is clean water wide spread enough to be available to everyone. Communication is so efficient that we can iterate a message from one person to millions of people at a time anywhere on this earth, taking merely seconds, a resource now used both for survival and amusement. There are books and technology that provide us vast amounts of knowledge about almost anything we can dream of. Even in the worse possible scenarios we could find ourselves in, there will always be ample resources readily available to us to assure our survival, yet human instinct still causes us to fall into routine, creating a catch twenty-two between fulfilling our plans and enjoying the comforts of everyday routine.
When it came down to fulfilling my plans in the past, there were always fears that stepped into play that halted my ability to follow through with what I wanted. If I left my home city, there was always the possibility that I wouldn’t like the new city I moved to, I wouldn’t find a good job, or I wouldn’t make new friends and find myself feeling lonely. These fears are rather silly when I examine them more closely. I am a very social person who makes friends very easily, if I don’t like the first job I find then I could find another job, and if I really don’t like the new city all too much, I can either find a new city to move to or return home. When it came to traveling the world, I feared that I would run out of money, I wouldn’t be able to understand the people around me, or I would get stuck somewhere. Likewise, if any of these things were to happen while traveling, it’s not as if my life were going to just end at that given moment on the side of some road in a foreign country, but rather I would find a way to figure it out. I examined all my fears that hindered my ability in the past to fulfill any of my plans, and they were all logically unsound. Besides, look where planning got me in the first place. I feel like my life has taken more steps backward by relying on my plans than forward, and ultimately my failed plans affected me on an emotional level that I will get over. It was not the end of the world. So when it came to making this decision to leave home to confront myself, there were two things that popped into my head: If I don’t go now, I may never fulfill this plan, and when it comes down to it, no matter what, I’ll figure it out.
By remaining at home, I would fall into the human trap of surrounding myself with the comforts of routine, settling with everything in my life because it offered some sense of stability, even if my life felt broken. By throwing myself into this situation, I am giving myself the opportunity to seek peace in my heart without distraction, I can explore opportunities that fulfill my dreams through meeting new people, and seeing first hand what joy lie ahead of me when I finally grasp onto an opportunity has shown me that I don’t want to fall into mundane routine. Has uprooting myself offered discomforts? Of course! But my experiences have more than paid back any discomfort by hundred fold. Rather than taking a journey with any sort of expectation, I’ve allowed life to take me by the hand and lead me at its will. I’ve felt liberated, accomplished, and all around happier these past few weeks by not planning and just doing. Not planning anything has given me the freedom to do as I please, and I feel more inclined to do something because I want to rather than feeling that I have to so as not to disappoint myself or others around me. And I’ve discovered that once liberated from daily routine, many opportunities have presented themselves to me, opportunities I never would have dreamed even existed before.
If liberation is brought on by seizing opportunities and just doing things rather than simply making plans, I will opt for spontaneity. If a moment of discomfort will result in fulfillment, I opt to never be comfortable again. We are grown to believe that we need to take life and do with it what we please. This doesn’t always work out the way we want it to, given that life his its own plans for how our journeys will be shaped. It is up to us to recognize these opportunities and grab hold of them for all that they are worth before they slip away and we find ourselves disappointed with the outcome of our lives. Sometimes opportunities are presented to us in the strangest ways that we fail to realize that this is the path to fulfillment because we are too focused on a particular plan that resides in our minds. Don’t plan, just do, and in the end everything will all work itself out.

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