"My heart is restless until it rests in thee." - St. Augustine
In every sense of the word, I consider myself a restless soul; never quite content, looking here and looking there to find whatever it might be to fill me up - emotionally and spiritually. I am forever searching, and I often wonder why I can't seem to be still in the present moment.
How about you? Have you ever felt restless? Restless to the point where your present circumstances just felt too much? We find ourselves overwhelmed with the daily challenges and responsibilities of kids, spouses, careers, finances, to-do lists, etc. and so we choose to remove ourselves from the real world and enter into a world of make believe; a world where we wish to exist only within ourselves. Our escape is just that; an escape, because we're so tired of doing all it takes to get from point A to point B and coming up empty. We search for a different path and when we can't find one, we begin to forge our own.
My journey will, without a doubt, look different than yours. If I decide to take a left, you might decide to take a right. When I feel that the valley is where I belong, you might be searching for a mountaintop view. Regardless, each path is uniquely scattered. In the past, when I find that I've reached a point of being over it, I look for ways outside of myself to get filled up; ways that will bring me happiness and allow me to function once again.
For whatever reason, shopping has always been what I turn to in those moments of restlessness. I fill up my life with stuff - lots and lots of stuff - until it's all put away nicely where it belongs and I can sit back and admire it from afar. I can pat myself on the back and say, yes, I did that. But after awhile, it's as if I can't remember what it was that made me so happy in the first place, so I go out in search of more. This becomes a continuous and vicious cycle. I go from feeling empty to full to back again. And each time the emptiness sets in, it morphs into disappointment because I was certain that my last escapade, that last swipe of my credit card, would do the trick. So why am I still empty? Why do I fill myself up with what I think will make me happy, all the while knowing that this filling-up is just a disguise, a mask, an invisible shield?
For many years, I created for myself a little island of make-believe, which was my preferred method of living compared to this side of reality. It was my own little space where, for the most part, I felt safe because it was there that I could be who I really was without everyone else getting to see that secretive side of me. I set up all sorts compartments and hidden closets where I could separate the delicate and avoidable pieces of my life and tuck them away, believing that because they were behind closed doors, they didn't really exist. However, when the time came to leave the security of my make-believe island, I found that as much as I didn't want to, I had to open up the doors and take those fragile pieces with me. I felt scared and lonely leaving my island and even though I was out in the fresh, cool air, my chest would constrict under the weight.
I now realize that eventually, no matter where the island is located, the waves will come upon the shore of make believe just as they often do in the world of reality. That regardless of how many walls or fences we build to keep the looters and strangers away, they will find the smallest of spaces to get in. There will come a time when we will have to decide if we will allow them to take us gently by the hand and walk willingly off the island, or if they will have to drag us out by the shirttails, kicking and screaming.
Either way, the doors will be flung open, the fresh, cool air will fill our lungs and there we will be, standing in the sunlight.
We must choose how we will surrender. Ready or not.