Stillness

To the mind that is still,the whole universe surrenders.

I’ve always loved the analogy of the mind being like an ocean. The surface – our everyday stream of consciousness – is often rocky and unpredictable. Our thoughts, emotions, and desires are continuously buffeted along by strong winds. These winds are the external forces in our lives – things like our jobs, our family situations, social conditioning.

But what lies beneath the surface? Is there a deeper level to our minds, an equivalent to the dark and mysterious depths of the ocean? This is a question I’ve spent a lot of time trying to answer when it comes to my own mind. And what I’ve found, in those rare moments when I’ve been able to calm the mental storm in my head, is that there is an incredible stillness to be found beneath the surface.

At first that stillness was detectable only in my most peaceful moments. I recall my almost nightly drives to Seal Beach during the summer of 2013, my first conscious attempts to escape all of the noise in my head. I would walk out to the edge of the pier and just stare at the ocean for an hour or so, letting the sounds of the waves and the surrounding darkness calm me.

After a while I would feel a shift inside. It was like all of my worries and superficial desires would just float away. My mind was finally just…still. It was in those moments that my desire for a life filled with adventure and beauty started to come to the surface.

For the first time in my life I could see that I wanted so much more for my life than the textbook version of success I had been chasing. It was clear that  typical things like finding a nice job, chasing after money, and searching for comfort and security just weren’t for me. It was as if the call of my heart was finally louder than the chatter in my brain.

To this day the contents of my brain are just as scattered as they were three years ago. When I wake up in the morning, seeking out the beauty in my life is the last thing on my mind. When someone is rude to me or I make a stupid mistake at work, I don’t think about adventure and romance, I just get pissed off. I wrestle with a myriad of fears, anxieties, and petty emotions every single day.

Yet the knowledge of what I’ve felt in those moments of stillness has stayed with me. I know that the tumultuousness of my thoughts and emotions only represents the very surface of who I am and what I want. I know that deep inside me, at the very core of my soul, exists a vision for my life that is so much greater than my everyday concerns and superficial desires.

Knowing all of this, when I feel myself getting caught up in life’s frenzied current, all I can do is pause and get in touch with that stillness. It’s in that state that I’m able to see clearly what I want out of life. It’s in the stillness that I derive my energy. And it’s in the stillness that I’m fully consumed by an appetite for beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

A Choice

30437_1527713434525_7763201_n

 

In the past three years I’ve “experimented” with quite a few different ways of looking at the world. I’ve been angry at everything, caught up in romance, completely focused on inner peace, and most recently, obsessed with self-improvement. While I would never advise anyone else to be so inconsistent with their state of mind, my own inconsistency has helped me get to the core of what I really desire: a life filled with beauty, romance, passion, and adventure. I want to be inspired, and nothing inspires quite like beauty.

What is beauty? Who defines it? Is it purely aesthetic, or something deeper? Is it an objective quality or is it, like the old expression tells us, merely found in the eye of the beholder? Can you actively pursue it, or can you only open yourself up to experience it?

I don’t have an answer to these questions and that’s okay with me. In a way, the mystery itself is beautiful. All I know is that I’ve seen glimpses of this mystical quality – most of them stumbled upon by accident – in the people, places, and things I’ve encountered in my life. Those glimpses have shown me that there is something more to life than the mundane, everyday concerns that normally fill my mind. There are things in this world that make my heart sing and my imagination run wild. And those things are what I want to spend my life seeking out.

How does one do this? To be honest I’m still figuring that out. Sometimes I look at the world around me and beauty is the last thing I see. But as Confucius once said, “everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Maybe trying to find the beauty in everything is overly romantic, a futile attempt to view the world with rose-colored glasses. But of course, life is really just a game of perception. We can choose to see the good or the bad in anything.

So I ask myself, why settle for the good when I can choose to see the beautiful?