Everyone collects something. Money, experiences, feelings, awards, relationships, ideas. Whatever your preferred “collectable,” you’ve learned to grab as much as you can before someone else does. This becomes the central focus of your life. You collect this, then this, then this, and you stuff it all into a shoebox beneath the bed. Fill that shoebox up with enough “life experience” or “financial security” or “quality family time”–then you are officially cleared to live your life at full speed.
Sadly, you can never cram enough stuff into this shoebox. No matter how much you put in, it’s never quite enough. Build a bigger shoebox if you want–a third marriage, a backpacking trip through Europe, a romance with a lion tamer–but you’ll still never capture enough items of value to make sense of your life. Why?
The shoebox itself is the thing you’re after. Because that shoebox is you. Fill it up, empty it out–it doesn’t really matter. The stuff you do, the stuff that happens to you–it’s all just wampum beads and shiny buttons at the end of the day.
When you chase things, one of two things happens. Maybe you never catch the thing you’re chasing, so you spend your whole life dreaming of “What If”, waiting for things to one day fall into place. Or maybe you do catch the exact thing you’re chasing–only now you fear losing it, so your whole life becomes about holding onto this person, this job, this investment. Finding, getting, keeping, losing. How incredibly exhausting.
Pay more attention to the chaser (that’s you), and less attention to the things you’re chasing. Living your life “out there” requires grabbing at things, consuming things, planning things. Living your life “in here” is about watching, observing, getting to know yourself. Anything that comes and goes, anything that changes over time–that’s not the real you. Your consciousness, your human awareness, has been there as long as you can remember. This deepest part of you watches your life without judgment, experiences things without labeling and categorizing. It was there when you lost your first baby tooth, and it’s still there every night when you dream. It’s closer than close, the breath within he breath. You don’t need to earn it. You don’t need to maintain or improve it. You just have to go inside, settle down, and be it.
About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background by clicking here.