How to stay on the path and let go of the end point

road-815297_1280I’m starting to accept that, beyond the death of your physical body, there is no end point to life. There is no full stop. No moment when it’s all done, or accomplished. No time when you can rubber stamp where you’re at, look around all satisfied, and know it’s all done and dusted. All loose ends tidied up.

For the longest time, I’ve been telling myself a different story – despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.

When I was younger, I thought marriage, or having a family was it. Maybe becoming a home owner, or finding the place I wanted to call home. Maybe it was finding a ‘career path’, or some kind of professional identity. When I got this degree, or that accreditation. And every time I tick another box, or cross another of my desires off the list, I realise that there’s still more.

And don’t get me wrong, this is not coming from a place of deep ingratitude or dissatisfaction. Not in any sense. Each milestone, each achievement, each exciting development has brought delight in its own way. Some of it makes me scratch my head in smiling wonder at how it ever came to be. Much of that delight is absorbed into my day to day, moment by moment experience.

But I also keep noticing that I’m not done. Not by a long shot. That where I’m at right now is remarkable beyond belief – but that there’s still more. There’s more I want to see, more I want to do, to experience, to create. That I am perpetually evolving, whether I want to or not. That my feet are, and always will be, itchy. That I will always be expanding, and reaching for what’s next. Always be growing in some way. And that however much I might sometimes want it to, life is never going to give me a free pass, and allow me to ‘settle’.

In my younger years, this used to manifest in all sorts of physical ways. There was a decade, or more, when it seemed like I was forever moving house, or country, or reproducing. For now, that’s stopped. The reproducing has stopped, the house bought, the work I love discovered.

Outwardly, I’m ‘settled’. Outwardly, it’s all in place.

Except, to my surprise, it’s not. To my surprise, this is in no way the end of the road. This is yet another beginning. This is simply another point on the path that I have no option but to keep walking. That as long as I am on this earth, the path of expansion is forever opening up before me.

I am perpetually incomplete.

I am always, at any moment, whatever accolades and ‘successes’ may befall me, on my way.

I am always heading toward something more.

However delightful the feeling of satisfaction may be as I tick something off my bucket list – it is, and always should be, transitory. A launch pad for more desire, more exploration, more growth.

Whether I want to be or not, I am always a work in progress.

And counter intuitive though this may sound, this perspective is what enables me to sit more powerfully in the moment. This way of seeing the world allows me to be more mindful of ‘what is’ in the here and now.

When I am tempted into seeing life as one long ‘to-do’ list, I am lured into the belief that there is some end point I am headed toward where personal or professional ‘success’ lies. Today, the story I am telling myself is that ‘success’ looks like generating a particular income doing the work I love, reaching a bigger audience, becoming a better, more impactful teacher. But when I ‘achieve’ all that – when I have that moment of realising I’m exactly where I thought wanted to be – there will simply be a new desire – a new opportunity. Life will call me to expand in a bigger or different direction.

It’s just the way it is.

And the more willing I am to settle in and enjoy the ride – the more willing I am to allow my perfect incompleteness at any given moment – the more fun I have. The more I let go of notions of how life ‘should’ be, and start enjoying life exactly as it is. The more I start approaching life exactly as I am.

from parenting in public.


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