Before going new directions you need to stop.
Stop following the route you are on, stop listening to what other people tell you to do, stop looking for answers anywhere else than inside of your own mind. And stop asking you fake questions.
Most of the questions we asked ourselves are not really our own questions.
Indeed, the majority of those questions are suggested by other people. Am I popular, what do I need to do to be successful, how do I get rich, do I do all it takes to live a long life, is my body the way it should be, …??? In fact, as soon as you read an article starting by “ten things you need to know …” or “how I managed to …” you got caught by a mean trick. The author makes you ask yourself questions you didn’t ask yourself before. They will tell you it’s for your own sake, but the fact is those questions weren’t yours before. And all of a sudden, there you are with problems you didn’t have before. And you even tell yourself “why didn’t I think of it myself before?”. Over time, you begin to work on problems that weren’t yours, using answers given by other people for these same problems that just weren’t there before. There’s no better way to be unhappy.
There’s a koân saying something like this : “when the waters are troubled, stop agitating, stand still and wait until the the mud settles down on the ground and the water becomes clear again?” In fact, that is in essence what you do when you meditate.
So, STOP and look inside your own mind.
Stand still and let the mud settle down. And then, when the waters have become clear again, then go new directions and GO YOUR OWN WAY! Social media are filled with these pseudo-problems for happy people. Those guys need to make you feel unhappy in order to sell you their real solutions for wrong problems. So they create new problems. All my life I worked on solving other people’s problems. When you work 14 hours a day on that you don’t need to solve your own problems because you don’t have the time to have problems. And then, one day, you have yourself a real problem. One of those you can’t just ignore. So, you do what everyone else would do, you ask for advice or help. And when you start looking for them you find lots of advices. There’s actually an entire industry out there dedicated to advice giving. Doctors will sell you their’s, psychologists will sell you a different one, the insurance man another one, the priest still another one. Your best friends will give you the “if I were you” advice. Your wife will say “whatever you decide I will be by your side” (if you’re lucky!).
At the end of the day, you are alone with your own genuine problem. This is your real personal one. Even if hundreds of people had one that ressembled, it still is your own-genuine-first time ever-problem. And for as many other people would love to help you solving it, you’re the only one you can take the decisions.
So, stop and look inside.
This is not easy. No one teaches us to look inside. In school and at home you are taught “listen to what I say”, “follow the rules”, “read the books of people who know” and so on. But almost nobody says “look inside and find the answer in your own heart”. Why? Because it’s something you can’t sell. How could you sell something your client already owns?
Of course smart people did eventually find a way to sell something. They don’t sell you your own inside, but the technique to look inside. Yoga, meditation, Qi Gong and the books that go with them. Now don’t get me wrong I deeply believe that these “techniques” (they hate that term) are the only advices worth listening to, but you can’t learn them in books. It takes years of practice with a good teacher to start to be able to do what you dream of : standing still and looking inside for answers. Only, once you have integrated the basics of these meditative activities, can you start reading stuff and look what others experimented with. Koâns are a wonderful tool at that moment. A koân is a short story or just a phrase aiming to help you look inside. Some of them sound weird or full of mystery, like “hit the sky, listen to the sound”, others like the “muddy water” metaphor are seemingly simple but extremely profound.
What did I find when I started looking inside?
I found many things I ignored about myself. Now I know that there is a unique person in everyone of us, but we usually spend more time with other people’s personalities than with our own. My life, as I lived it up to this point, has reached an end, for multiple reasons, but mainly because, looking inside, I found the real problems, my very own unique issues. I still have to find most of the answers for them, but I already have gotten to the point where I know that intuition is at least as important as good advice and that the answers are inside of me, not anywhere else.
How long will it take before I will go these new directions? I don’t know. Maybe I’m already on my way. The first thing you learn when you start to meditate is taking time. Taking the time necessary for your busy mind to slow down, the time to let things settle down and the time for new thoughts and feelings to arise. Slowing down is the first answer I found. For someone like me, who was sort of a workaholic (many doctors are!), slowing down is difficult and almost painful. There still remains this temptation of “doing more”, being “more efficient”, more “productive”. But I am more and more aware of its presence, when the old demons hit on my door.
The second answer I found is emotions. Reconnecting to my emotions meant first accepting the fact I had some. I have feelings I used to stuff in one of those boxes in my cellar. Feelings I classified useless and counterproductive. Sadness, fear of isolation, need for affection, love to give and so on. All these things I never told my wife and my children. By the way, when should I have said them, since I hardly saw my children and my wife at all? That’s some really tough idea : you don’t suffer because of your lack of success, or your stupid and mean boss, you suffer because you put away these feelings of yours. And how can you stop the suffering if you don’t face it? And how do face your emotions if you ignore them? And I found tons of emotions hidden in that trunk. Nice ones, nasty ones, old ones and some I never thought I had them. When you reconnect to your emotions it first seems as if the suffering increased. But then, once you accepted the fact that they are here and they’re yours, the suffering decreases rapidly and below the starting point.
There’s a third answer I found : there is no such thing as truth.
Every time someone claims to tell you the truth it’s his or someone else’s personal truth of the moment. That’s if you’re lucky, if you’re not then it’s a lie. Every single book on this planet contains nothing but little truths with a limited warranty in time, location and circumstance. So looking for truth is not worth a dime.
That’s 3 important notions so far : slowing down, reconnecting to an emotional intelligence and no believe in truth.
What comes next? I don’t know and that’s the fun part. I just don’t know but I reconnected to the curiosity in life I had lost for so many years. Not knowing what comes next might be the biggest answer of all. What kind of adventure would life be it we knew? The really cool thing about human life is the fact that it’s limited in time, shorter than you think and full of surprises.