"wherever you go, there you are." i've thought about this phrase so much over the years, and i've always come to the same conclusion: it's not entirely true.
it's partly true, yes, because your troubles will always follow you. it's partly untrue, too, because your surroundings can directly improve your sense of well-being. place is not a cure-all; when i move again all will not be perfect—but i'm certain it will be better, and better is a step toward even better. cure-alls don't exist, and that goes for the supposed cure-all of finding "happiness within." <— another aphorism that confounds the person trying desperately to find a place of peace. that we should possess the ability to dig deep within our brains and come up with a handful of happiness that we've otherwise failed at finding through other means is an enormous pressure, and one that ends up making a peace-searcher feeling defeated and inept.
happiness, contentedness, peace—whatever you choose to call it—isn't something you can simply will yourself to have; in fact, having it is a job, one you have to work at on many different levels, both internal and external. if i believe that a little piece of my peace lies in living somewhere that offers me a pretty body of water to walk alongside, then i shouldn't punish myself for longing for something i know can help. wherever i go, there i am? not entirely. some places i've gone have helped me navigate the trials of life better than others. that's real. i experienced it. and it means place does have a place in the overall picture of a person's well-being. place isn't everything, but it's something.
when a person is expressing confusion or disillusionment, think carefully how you respond. unless the person is being highly unreasonable (e.g., "i have everything i could ever want except for this terrible, horrible, life-altering hangnail!"), LET THEM FEEL HOW THEY'RE FEELING. please. please, do that. please do not tell them how it could be worse or how they should appreciate what they already have, because, odds are, they've already thought of those things many times—and accordingly felt like a jerk for not feeling at peace even though they have their health, a loving family, and a roof over their heads. h-c-p (happiness-contentedness-peace) is not a right, it's a privilege, one we all have to endeavor to achieve, and one we all work toward in ways specific to our nature. some people (me, along with some of you reading this) aren't practical; we don't function at our best when leading the traditional life that tradition tells us to live; we know what's right when we see it, or, more importantly, when we feel it. we're sense-creatures.
when a person is expressing confusion or disillusionment, don't contradict them. don't tell them their feelings could change if they would just look at life from a new perspective. odds are, they've tried to turn the wheel of the perspective kaleidoscope and then felt utterly disappointed when the view felt ... wrong, somehow wrong in that way that only the beholder can understand. stop telling them that they're "not different." they are different: they're different from you. and that's all that counts. i think sometimes people are opposed to accepting someone else's uniqueness because that uniqueness acts as a highlighter to their qualities which might not fall under the category of "unique," thus leaving them feeling like a coat of flat paint. in that case, hear this: nothing is unique. not really. one girl's uniqueness is another girl's normal.
when a person is expressing confusion or disillusionment, don't tell them that the things they oppose could actually be good for them if they'd try harder. odds are, they've tried pretty damn hard and then felt bewildered by the fact that wanting something their heart doesn't desire isn't, in fact, good for them. let them be who they are. let them take the journey their way, the end of which might find them somewhere they never thought possible or probable, somewhere that might be close to the place you were trying to lead them back when they weren't listening. if that happens, don't say "i told you so." know that they could only get to that place through their own trial and error. try your best to give gentle advice and suggestions based upon who they are and how they're feeling, not upon who you are and how you think or wish they'd feel.
i can envision some people reading this and thinking, "wow. she's not very appreciative of people caring enough to offer their thoughts." not true. i appreciate thoughts. in fact, i thoroughly enjoy hearing other peoples' perspectives, but the painful truth is that some people are better at offering perspective than others. some people just are. and it's those people whose support, through circumstances they might not agree with or understand, helps the h-c-p seeker along her way—that way always, inevitably longer and harder than if she could just manage to exist solely on appreciating what she has in the present, have goals that don't resemble the ones she's had for a decade+, become less whimsical, give in to the pressures of circumstance that would have her become who she's never been in the deepest folds of her ever-busy brain.
i'd like to invent a new phrase, and i hope it'll take hold. go viral, if you will. "wherever you are, there you go." every point and place in life is a point and place to move forward from, if that's what you desire and if that's what you're apt to do as a result of being uniquely you. THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. don't change. don't put a pillow over your heart, hoping to smother its screams that are urging you to do what feels MOST LIKE YOU (unless, of course, what feels most like you is eating human flesh or kicking puppies. in that case, i hope you're not reading this blog). and if you're dealing with a person who's a perpetual wonderer-wanderer, LET THEM BE WHO THEY ARE. if you care enough for your relationship with them, carefully weigh your responses. try to put more of them—and less of you—into your discourse. that's not an easy task, i know. i fail at it, though i'm failing less with time and awareness. being a careful listener and a thoughtful adviser is work. so put forth the effort it takes to cultivate an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance. remember that if someone believes in their gifts and goals and gut—that's precious. you don't have to agree with their decisions and, unless those decisions are utterly heinous, you can wish all day long, silently, that they'd try another way. odds are, however, they have tried and then felt a void. maybe one day they'll try again and it'll feel less void-y. you never know. so remember that: YOU can never know.
we can all use a little help being a better self and finding our h-c-p. help is everywhere: it's within. it's also in a walk by a river. in a good cup of coffee at a shop frequented by interesting strangers. in watching a dog play joyously with his new toy in his own grassy yard. in a child being raised by a parent who's thriving. in a good listener. in writing.
here's to finding it, in whatever way fits you.