The thing about writing a website called “The Unlost” is that people expect you to help them get unlost, as if you’ve got these wise, profound answers perpetually on the tip of your tongue. They expect you to be some sage-like person who will magically point them in the right direction.
In reality, though, sometimes you’re just as lost as the rest of ’em. In reality, sometimes you wake up to find yourself in a strange land far from home, having left your job, 95% of your belongings, and your sweet dogchildren behind, asking questions like
“What in the hell am I doing here?”
When you know that going back won’t solve a single one of your problems and yet you have no idea how to move forward, when you’ve left home because you’ve found yourself, only to lose yourself once again, what do you do, and what answers can you possibly have to offer others?
This is the position in which I may or may not have found myself lately (this could totally be a hypothetical situation, so just play along with me here, mmkay?).
. . .
“What would Wise Therese say?” I asked myself as I stared blankly at my computer screen.
Wise Therese didn’t respond. It seems she’d run away somewhere, most likely to a tropical beach where she was sipping margaritas with a beaming smile spread across her face, blissfully speaking words of wisdom to the masses.
(God, I hate that bitch.)
And so with Wise Therese MIA, Little Therese was left to fend for herself. She thought and thought and thought, but no matter how she tried, Little Therese had no solutions to offer.
& So logically, she found herself headed to Starbucks for one of those new Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino things (chocolate whipped cream YUM!).
Little Therese began to think of the times she’d found her way out of difficulty in the past– about how she’d found her way out of heartache after a breakup or happiness after despair or clarity after confusion. She thought about how she’d gone from an insecure, unformed, approval-seeking girl to a woman of strength, confidence & grace.
“How did I do that?” she asked.
And she realized that she didn’t really know how it had happened. It wasn’t as if there was one magical moment in which she’d gone from confusion to clarity, from despair to contentment, from brokenness to wholeness.
Instead, after days or months or years that seemed like decades of questioning and suffering and seeking, she’d simply woken up one day and realized that things had shifted without her even noticing. It was as if something much subtler, something just outside her conscious perception, had been at work all along– as if roots had been growing deeply and imperceptibly beneath the earth, until one day a bud finally surfaced.
She’d woken up months after a breakup and realized, “Woah. I think I’m actually… happy on my own.”
She’d woken up years into a struggle with rheumatoid arthritis and realized, “I am at peace.”
And after years of wondering what she was passionate about, she woke up to find herself writing this blog.
There was no one big shift, no one “aha” moment. Over time, without consciously realizing it, she found that the puzzle pieces had s l o w l y fallen into place. Over time, she had somehow lived her way into the answers.
And as Little Therese thought about this, she began to write.
A few hours later, she looked up from her laptop and this post had been written.
And by the time she’d packed her things up and left Starbucks, flip-flopping her way through the parking lot, it seemed as though Little Therese was no longer lost at sea. She felt the warmth of the California sun against her cheek and heard the soft chatter of birds in the air. A gentle smile rested softly on her face.
On the surface, nothing had changed– she was still far from home and from her dogchildren, still unsure about her next step and of the future that lay ahead. Her bank account hadn’t been magically filled, nor had Brad Pitt’s twin showed up on her doorstep.
And yet somehow she’d come into peace. Somehow things had shifted– she’d lived her way back into the moment that is.
And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
so it happens for us all.
We are like sailboats on the sea– we can try and try to get somewhere, but no matter how hard we try or think or struggle, we cannot move the sailboat on our own.
Thankfully, though, we don’t have to, because there is a soft and gentle breeze already blowing– so soft, in fact, that we hardly notice we’re moving at all.
Slowly, subtly, imperceptibly, we are already living our way into the answers, into the moment, into beauty and joy and truth– until one day we wake up and we find ourselves staring out across the vast blue sea, amazed at the distance we’ve come.
Gradually, gradually, gradually, we live our way into the answers– we sail our way into peace and joy, contentment and clarity.
If Little Therese could tell you how to do this, she would– but the truth is, she can’t.
Life is funny like that. Some things, it seems, are better left to Mystery.
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[Image by Shandi-Lee]