“People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.”
― Ramona L. Anderson
Many years ago, there was a woman who spent all of her time searching for something. She never quite knew exactly what it was that she was searching for, but she just couldn’t stop looking. Something deep within her drove her to hunt for it.
She would refer to her goal as a “quest for peace” or “search for happiness” and she knew that somewhere out there was something or someone or some place that would give her this missing sense of peace and happiness.
When she was younger, before her face became crisscrossed with deep lines of worry, fear and confusion, she began her search. A few years of unexpected pain and difficulty had thrown her into a state of confusion and jarred her soul.
She knew that something was missing, yet what this was, she could not see, and its discovery hovered perpetually just beyond her awareness. She would constantly move towards this missing something, but it always slipped beyond her grasp.
Something had to change, what she was doing wasn’t working. “Perhaps,” she thought, “if I find the right career, I will discover it and finally be happy.”
Fortunately, she was smart enough to understand that persistence and consistent hard work would bring her career achievement. She pursued a path of work excellence and achieved it, yet it was not fulfilling. That something that she deeply needed still remained just beyond her grasp.
All the while, she thought to herself, “If I meet the right man, who will be good to me, I can be happy.” She attempted to find love, but this never worked out. It wasn’t that she hadn’t found loving, kind men, it was that they just weren’t what she expected.
After one particularly painful breakup, the suffering and search for that missing something intensified. Her life was passing quickly and she felt she had gotten nowhere in finding what it was that she needed to be happy and find peace.
Eventually, the static, unfulfilling and monotonous nature of her life became too much to bear. She sold everything she owned and put in her notice that she would be abandoning her successful career. She made plans to travel the world.
Her family and friends tried to talk some sense into her, but she would not listen. Her mind was made up and her focus was fixed like a laser beam.
As she stepped off the airplane into a new and strange land, she discarded her one-way ticket and, with it, her old life. She felt a sense of relief that she could finally leave all of the pain of her past, all of the emptiness, behind her and begin afresh.
She wandered the new lands and roamed aimlessly. She took jobs where she could, learned new skills, met many wonderful people and visited places that her friends and family had only dreamed about. She was living the dream.
She travelled to remote, pristine beaches and climbed up glorious mountain peaks shrouded in misty clouds. She had intensely romantic moments with men she never imagined could exist. She meditated in monasteries and learned about the mystical traditions of the world.
Yet, there was still an emptiness that plagued her, that compelled her to move on, to keep up her search. She hadn’t found what she was looking for, so she kept moving.
It pained her to waste any time, for she knew life was short. As she moved, her health began to deteriorate. She was never seriously ill, but life seemed to be dragging her down, building up on her shoulders as she went.
One morning, after sleeping in a park, she found her meager belongings were gone. She hadn’t any idea what had happened to them. She stood up and felt strange without anything to carry. How alone she felt! How naked her soul now was, with absolutely nothing to call her own.
Hunger compelled her to move on and she searched for food. After spending the day trying to communicate with people whose language she did not speak she slumped back down in the park, dejected.
“I have searched so long and so far,” she said aloud raising her head and arms up to the heavens above, “and what have I got to show for it? Bruised arms and legs, scorched skin, a wrinkled face and nothing to my name! I have never been so lost and alone!”
With nowhere to go and nothing to distract her, she slouched in sadness, waiting for nothing. For the first time since she could recall, she felt like giving up her search. After all, she thought to herself, she never really even knew what she had been hunting for.
Her mind calmed, like the smoothing out of ripples on a pond, and she finally stopped moving. For just a few moments she did nothing.
Suddenly, a feeling arose within her, or maybe it was a voice and it spoke to her and asked, “Search no more.”
Outraged she screamed out, “What?! Search no more? And throw away everything, all the time and energy and pain? Why would I stop searching?”
“Because you’ve been looking in the wrong direction,” replied the voice from within.
A wave of realization spread across her face. “Could it really be that simple? Everywhere I went, the problems followed me,” she said as she slowly worked it out in her mind.
“Wait, it didn’t follow me…the problem was me…no, the problem was within me. I was running from it, wasn’t I?”
The voice within encouraged her to continue.
“I was running from, never running to anything. I was searching for that missing something outside of me, but,” she gasped in realization, “I never looked within.”
Something inside her nodded and acknowledged her realization. “You’ve been looking at it backwards,” declared the voice within, “the outside world will not really give you anything, it is not the cause, rather it is the effect. From within you is the source, the cause of everything. If you would be happy, be happy. For who knows what tomorrow brings.”
She stood up in awe, and looked about her. It was as if a fuzzy veil had always covered the world around her and now it had been removed. She understood.
To feel happiness, she simply needed to feel good and she realized that she had been deceived into thinking that it was difficult to be happy, that something was required in order for her to be happy.
She took a breath and felt the air flow and spread deep into her lungs; every molecule in her being softened and relaxed. A bright, exciting new world opened before her as she realized the immense potential power which had slept dormant within her all these years.
And she remembered the pain of the past. She recalled the terrible and shameful things she had done and she now knew that she had been running from them all along. She had used the world around her to distract her, so she didn’t have to feel the pain within. But, never dealing with, it had continuously built up, increasingly compelling her forward.
She had never found love, because she had never felt she deserved it. After all, she had done some pretty awful things when she was younger. But in that moment, like dust in a storm, the pain blew far away and she forgave herself for every mistake she ever made.
She looked around and realized that everyone was just doing the best they could, trying to make sense of this crazy world, including herself. Her entire being tingled with a wave of joy as years of anger and resentment melted away, dissolving deep into the silence and darkness of the past.
And as she felt the incredibly uplifting joy of letting go of what she had done, she remembered how so many people had wronged her throughout her life. She realized that they too were merely human and she let it all go, all the pain that she had dragged around with her.
With her spirit cleansed and her mind purified, she returned to her home, her family and her friends. And with her, followed a sense of peace and happiness.
She attempted to communicate what she had realized, but most ears would not hear what she had to say. People were too preoccupied to see what she wanted them to see. But it didn’t worry her, for she knew that they too were on the same search and, when they were ready, would look within and find what they were looking for.
It was then that a new journey began for her, one to unravel the mysteries of her spirit, to awaken the power within her. But this journey was not one of longing and unrest, rather it was one of continuous excitement and increasing joy, abundance and serenity.
And she spent the remainder of her days cheerfully designing her life, creating it within her soul and setting about to transmute her vision into reality. She walked the path of life with a smile on her face and light in her heart, all because she finally looked within.