One of the things I’ve been thinking about today regarding mental health has been this feeling that you are working towards something. But really I’m having a hard time articulating, much less understanding what that is. You see, I am not sure I have met a single person on this spinning rock who is There. I have yet to meet his Holiness the Dalai Lama or anyone absolutely secure with themselves.

The few I’ve met who came close just seemed to be lonely and fine with that. I’m not sure that is the same thing. It’s not what I want. It reminds me too much of the Aesthetic model of early Christianity where they rejected the World and its evils and perched on top of stone columns or hid out in caves until they died of exposure, ignoring the beautiful gifts and people the world has to offer.

I feel like there is something missing in Healing. A key element people talk about is not letting loneliness bother them. But I also think that is ignoring an important emotion. I don’t think that people need to eschew the trappings of emotional connection to be happy. I think they just need to have decent boundaries that work to filter out those incapable of fulfilling the need for healthy connection. Is that what I’m supposed to be looking for?

Settling for less that what you deserve is something important to be careful of. All the times in my life I’ve been unhappy with a relationship it has been due to settling. Friendships, romantic, familial, work, etc. This idea that you are only good enough for X.

When I was soaking in Glenwood the other day, I overheard a conversation between two people. A young woman and a young man about her age. Both were attractive in that youthful Instagram kind of way. She dominated the conversation. I think he might have had more to add if the subject drifted more towards crossfit or what his tattoos signified.

She was talking about a man in NYC she had been dating. Francesco. He was a NYT bestselling writer and “out of my league,” she explained. She put herself in a box and was now slumming it on the Jersey Shore with the Situation Jr. I kinda felt bad for Francesco, because if he dated her, he probably didn’t see her as being beneath him. He probably just liked her. And if he was a writer, his external ego and aura of success was probably a construct of self-defense anyway. Not saying all writers are neurotic messes…but it takes a certain kind of person to sit in front of a computer all day making shit up in their head.

So what AM I working towards? What does better mental health look like? What does healthy emotional balance feel like? What is this invisible, intangiable thing that we are supposed to be working towards? How will we know if we reach it? What if we pass it and then just wander on ahead blindly? Is that kind of emotional equilibrium boring? Do we find some sort of sanguine Jedi headspace where we aren’t rattled by anything, or a stoicism that means we feel almost nothing? Jeez, that sounds awful actually.

Things I miss are belly laughs with someone, sharing dreams and ambitions, plotting out our dream house together, wanting to work towards similar goals and sharing that kind of ambitious energy. Emotional support. Spontaneous, flirtatious moments. Snort laughs. Telling old stories and enjoying hearing them no matter how many times they are told and allowing the fish in the tales to get bigger and bigger. Happy tears. Falling over together breathless, hearts racing, heads swimming. Favorite restaurants and pizza pockets in front of the TV on a snowy night.

Are these things to leave behind because the times you had them were nice, but hurt to miss them? Because it sucks to lose these things, knowing that if you ever get something like them again, it won’t be the same. It would be a paler reflection or just a reminder of what you lost. A half-remembered dream.

What am I working towards?

What vision of the future do I have for myself? What is attainable, and what is something that just sounds like it would be nice? Do I want to live in a giant mansion on the hill in my smoking jacket with a blazing fire in my drawing room, constructing an animatonal creation/psuedo son that might accidentally kill me when I am trying to give him a gift of new hands (instead of scissors), or maybe living a nomadic lifestyle in a camper van, driving from place to place, getting into adventures in an episodic meandering that changes every week, but is familiar enough to keep people interested?

Or do I just write, walk to the post office, make lunch, drink coffee, write, nap, write, eat, sleep until I die? With some short day trips thrown in there for variety, having conversations with strangers or eavesdropping on others to voyeuristically peek into their lives?

And just be okay with that?

I guess it beats finding someone who demands all of my time, insists that I take out the trash or pick up my socks when I’m busy with something else or grumbles about visits from either of our families or how so-and-so on Facebook must be happier because they went to Turks and Caicos for an anniversary and we didn’t. Daydreaming about doing the things you wonder if they will give you fulfillment as you are attached to a shitty, dead-end job just to break even every month, but never actually being brave enough to give it a shot. Feeling okay with complete and total failure and learning from it. Because it was scary and outside of your comfort zone.

Comfort zones are poisonous. People drift towards familiarity no matter how toxic because being on a journey on your own to discover what actually fills your soul is fucking lonely. You second guess yourself, especially if your whole life you’ve been trained to second guess yourself. It’s scary to do it alone, especially when you feel like nobody believes in you, or no one understands what it is you are trying to find. Some people keep trying to cobble together a broken life because it is familiar, rather than pull themselves out of the ashes and move on to what they really want.

That, my friends, is the definition of settling.

I think it’s okay to question the direction you are taking and even wonder what it is that you value. It’s part of the journey, and not even His Holiness the Dalai Lama can give it to you. You have to understand that there is a point out there on the horizon and a drive to walk towards it, and maybe if you are lucky enough, you’ll figure out what you want to do about it when you get there.

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