[4] The Sunday Collections: The Difference Between "Ideal" and "Right"

First, a quote I saw this week and loved:
I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without noticing it, live your way into the answer.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Live your way into the answer.
As good as this past season has been, it hasn’t been without it’s hard questions and moments of wrestling. I’ve been trying to understand this nagging restlessness in me. What I’m slowly realizing is that I got caught in a little trap of living to prove or justify myself, rather than living as my best self.
Expectations are strange. Sometimes my ideals and what is actually right for me aren’t the same thing. I waste time chasing wishes and miss the rich substance of right here. This whole season, for me, has been one of forcing myself to stay, to simplify, to slow down and fly under the radar for a bit. It has been humbling on many levels. That isn’t a bad thing.
Sometimes I wait for some magic feeling or a direct sign to show me I’m in the right place or doing the right thing. When I get stuck in this place, what I’m really doing is glancing up at all the faces out there to make sure they are all still smiling. I don’t even know who those faces are, but they hold powerful sway. I didn’t even realize I was living so tethered to approval from these vague mystery people but apparently I was.
I’ve asked myself so many times: why isn’t this working? I’ve scattered questions all over this season, trying to find answers, and finally resigning myself to gathering evidence from noticing my habits, my responses, my intuition. What I realized is embarrassingly simple: it isn’t working because it isn’t right. I was chasing dreams that didn’t fit. I was wishing for things that looked very sparkly and fulfilling, but I wanted them for all of the wrong reasons.
It is kind of like what they tell you about dating: you can’t have a strong relationship with another person in that way until you know yourself first. In other words: don’t date out of insecurity. It’s the same difference between running away and exploring options. With running, you are constantly trying to find that “one thing” to fulfill you, define you, satisfy you. With exploring, you know yourself already and you’re trying to find the best fit. One leads to a persistent hollowness and an insatiable appetite. The other one leads to a peaceful sense of knowing this is right.
How do you begin to know yourself? It comes through poking around a bit and finding those things that make you feel alive and passionate and capable and doing more of it. It comes through building a tight circle of people you trust and who will tell you the truth, lovingly, when you start to fall off track. It is learning how to be really honest about what you don’t do well and making peace with that. It is noticing your bad habits and figuring out how to overcome them. It is recognizing why you want what you want. These are ways to live into the answer. It is about noticing. It is about paying attention. It is about choosing which voices to listen to in your life and learning how to tune out the other ones.
Basically, it takes attentive work. Eventually, though, it will shape a new way of thinking and, consequently, a new way of being. Every day we’re healing something.
Live your way into the answer.
Happy Sunday.
I hope you find moments of true clarity and peace within this week.

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