#1 Where Things Start – A Meaning Crisis
“I think I can’t do it, David.” He remained silent, just looked at me. “I thought I wanted a career in marketing, to lead a team and all of this, but, but…” I started to cry. My tears dropped into my Nasi Goreng (traditional fried rice) as the sun slowly set over the sea. We were almost at the end of a three-week backpacking holiday in Malaysia and Borneo when the truth finally broke out of me. “I love my team and I know they are going to offer me an unlimited work contract after the end of my studies, but this is not what I want anymore. I feel empty, uninspired and depressed just thinking of this being my future.” I had this aching hole inside of me that I had tried to ignore. The truth was that my life felt like a hamster wheel that I had not chosen to run in. Study, climb up the corporate career ladder, trying to comply and fit in, follow the path society had paved for me. I had tried to ignore this truth inside of me for months but the distance from Germany and the job, the beauty of the Malaysian rainforest and the wilderness of Borneo had created space inside of me. Space that the truth ruthlessly used to rise up.
From within the depth of my being, I experienced a longing, a longing that felt like loneliness at times. The feeling of meaninglessness had become intolerable. Something needed to change, which meant I needed to change something. I needed to search for meaning. I needed to follow this yearning for a different kind of life, a life that was imbued by meaning and aliveness.
We need rock bottoms. We need meaning crises. It is in the depth of darkness and frustration where we realize that our soul seeks a different life. A life that feels uniquely meaningful and worth living to us. It is also in the dark depth of a meaning crisis where we eventually find the our courage again. The word courage comes from the French word for heart cœur. So it is in the darkness where we reconnect with the power of the heart. It is this power of the heart, this courage, that makes us get up from the floor and start walking. To start walking half knowing – or in my case it was not even half knowing, into a new direction.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
I felt stuck and out of place in the story I was in. This pain pushed me to tap into the power I have to not only turn the page, but to start an entire new book. Oh boy, if I had known what an adventure book I was about to write! Words and tales interwoven with people I knew all my life, with new teachers, lovers and friends.
They say we are only one choice away from a whole new life. Well, in my experience it takes us exercising our freedom of will guided by our conscience over and over again to co-create a life that is true to us. And yet, it is true. When I was in the foggy darkness of my meaning crisis and finally couldn’t run from the truth any longer, I took the decision that led me on an incredible journey that has brought me writing these words now from a comfy couch in Lisbon, Portugal where I live as a mindfulness teacher and freelancer.