Because you’re reading this book, it’s likely you’re at a point of questioning your life: questioning the meaning of your life, wanting to make sense of your life. With this material, I attempt to inspire you to stop and look at your life; show you self-help tools to see why you might be at the point of questioning your life; determine the likely dynamics of your life right now; consider what you might encounter while attempting to uncover your self and your life’s path. (Note: I elaborate on the required honesty and courage for good reason.) Here is a summary of the steps you’re likely to encounter as you walk your life’s journey.
I talk of realizing that you’re likely at a point you don’t want to be in your life. This is not about a physical place. Rather, I’m referring to a place with your life where daily, perhaps even moment by moment, your experiences aren’t what you’d like them to be. These unwanted experiences might be about your life in general, or something specific, like your relationships, job or family life. Correcting such unwanted experiences doesn’t necessarily mean you should leave your relationship, get another job, or so on. Rather, by looking closely, you might recognize some patterns or behavior that requires adjusting. Yes, that careful look might result in you deciding to leave a situation, perhaps even if it means doing something drastic like cutting yourself off from your family. While possible, drastic actions aren’t inevitable however.
The first step is merely to recognize and realize that what you’ve created isn’t what you want with your life—that is, you’re living a life of unwanted experiences.
So next, you figure it’s time for change. Bravely you prepare yourself for change—for breaking out. And this is where it starts: Where Factor-x interjects and convinces you to stay put, to stay with the status quo.
You’ll likely not easily manage to overcome the apprehension when contemplating breaking out of your self-incarceration brought by your Factor-x and the standards and norms you’ve grown accustomed to. When you are at the moment you’d like to reverse a lifelong previous decision—to reverse the decision when you took on your Factor-x—it will be very easy to keep running in circles.
As you continue along the path of your own meaning, somewhere either at the beginning or several times during your journey, you’re likely to get “the empty feeling.” You won’t feel this intellectually, but it will still be there, in full force, wherever you’re feeling the emptiness. This empty feeling might even occur when waking up from a dream. (Dreaming is described elsewhere in “Dreaming the Feeling.”) Whenever it occurs, that empty feeling is a sure opportunity to recognize what you’ve been afraid of almost all your life. When feeling the emptiness in full force, it’s no wonder that humankind is running hell-bent the other way from the raw fear of where we likely took on our Factor-x. It is indeed fortunate that Factor-x can be uncreated. But then people would need to know about it, and have the honesty and courage to see Factor-x for what it is—a figment of their imagination—and have the courage to acknowledge its existence, then move away from it, albeit one step at a time, by uncovering and manifesting themselves.
So this time, you have a choice. You can again run from it—and not address it—or merely acknowledge it and move on with your life. The latter choice allows you, in a sense, to come home by overcoming the ensuing fear of the emptiness that has plagued your life.
One of the first apprehensions we’ll encounter is that we’re not going to survive financially if we follow our heart. A sure second thing is that those close to us won’t be interested in us after we break out of the standards and norms and our Factor-x; as a result, we’ll end up on our own, alone, ostracized. These feelings have kept us in tow for years. Likely, for as long as we can remember, they were there, guiding us to navigate a certain lifestyle. Now suddenly, we’re about to make an about-turn, prepared to leave that life and pursue a life where we follow our own meaning—our heart. And this is likely just too much for us to surmount. And we’ll make a strong case to stay put. We’ll tell ourselves we don’t have the means, or certain things in our lives, or the necessary funds, or assistance. We’ll feel like we won’t be able to be ourselves until certain things are present in our lives: until we put certain things in place for us to fall back on if things don’t work out.
But what we’ll most certainly be overlooking is that for us to be ourselves, we don’t need anything. We just need to be alive and breathing. We need absolutely nothing for us to be ourselves. So you and I can be ourselves without anything first being in place. Nothing first
needs to be set up. You can just be yourself, as you are, with whatever and however you are in the moment you make this realization. If we first needed something to be ourselves, then is that something anything other than saying, “If I had that shiny new car or that fancy house, then indeed I will be myself?” No sirree. You don’t need anything to be yourself. Not now. Not then. Not ever.
When wanting to make the transition from being driven by Factor-x to being oneself, it’s a matter of first being oneself, thus moving aside our Factor-x, if just for a moment, to see ourselves. Once this is done, we need to cultivate that self we had a glimpse of—no matter how fragile that self appeared—to flourish.
When contemplating breaking from Factor-x and pursuing our life’s journey, we’re likely to become apprehensive. Factor-x is going to fight such a move tooth and nail, as the saying goes. We’re likely to feel anxious and afraid for what the unknown will bring. We’re likely to get overwhelmed, and not pursue such a breakaway from our Factor-x–driven lives—life as we know it—the only life we know up to that point—that point when we’re contemplating a breakout. Apart from one thing, nothing will get us past this point. Absolutely nothing else!
What is that one vital thing? Intention. Only intention will.
Without intention, it’s best we don’t even start. Without intention, it will be impossible to contemplate, never mind actually taking the first steps before we scrape together the courage to recognize where our intention lies.
If our intention is missing, such steps are far too overwhelming. We’ll conjure up every excuse in the book. We’ll convince ourselves that the step isn’t for us. That the theory I’ve presented in this material is good and well, but not practical. We’ll even propose it for other people we know—whom we’ll say would be suited to such a drastic turnabout in their lives. Without intention, we’ll convince ourselves that this material is certainly not for us.
This inner debate and cycle of looking at symptoms will turn and swirl in our minds until we paint ourselves into a corner and even throw away the paintbrush, convinced that taking this new direction isn’t for us. And this circular process will certainly continue, unceasing, until only one of two outcomes is possible: We stop dead in our tracks and give up, or realize that we need only one thing—and it’s already inside us. And that is intention. We need an internal ingredient: intention. We need the intention to want to break out—an unequivocal intention that the life we have is not the life we want, and the time has come for change. And that we intend to make the change, whatever it takes.
Once at this point, when we realize we need nothing else, and that we intend to effect change, that’s when it will start for us. Then, we’ll have every opportunity to use whatever we have as far as skills go, possibly combined with some resources and the courage to start our own journey, one step at a time, irrespective of where it takes us.
Remember, we are not in pursuit of a destination, but on a journey—a manifestation of what we uncovered as our meaning. This is what our life is about. Nothing more! Nothing less! Our life is thus just about one thing, and that is to manifest our meaning one step at a time, moment by moment.
Okay, once at this point of being yourself, then of course there are things you’re going to change in your life. All the things you used to do out of fear and of wanting to disprove that your Factor-x exists? Those things, you’ll most probably drop from your life, because you just don’t need them anymore. All the crutches you use, you’ll drop. This is something you’ll do overnight, or gradually, as and when you notice these patterns. Then, slowly, as you recognize the behavioural traits for what they are and drop them, you’ll see new things emerge from inside yourself, things you’d rather pursue. Thus, you’re uncovering yourself. You’re not doing things to be yourself. No! You do them because you are yourself, and manifesting your self as opposed to being driven by your fears and Factor-x.
This journey seems easy, but alas, it’s not for the fainthearted. Mostly, we’re very afraid, and our Factor-x is overwhelming. With or without intention, this seemingly easy journey could be a rollercoaster ride and nightmarish. Oh, and it takes courage. But rest assured, when you reach a certain point, let’s say the critical-mass point, the scale swings and it becomes easier—even as easy as described above.
Once we shake off the driving force of Factor-x, which is instant fuel and energy for what we’re doing, we’ll encounter a new phenomenon. At first, you’re likely to feel flat and without energy. The external driving force has now lessened and even disappeared, and what’s left are your own reasons for what you’re doing. You will find your own energy, your own bounce, your own enthusiasm, however. Because where Factor-x was the driving force—which elicited lots of energy and drive for almost anything in an attempt to disprove the existence of your Factor-x—it is no more. And, as seen previously in “Own Meaning and Factor-x,” as you do what’s important to you, your own energy and bounce and enthusiasm will slowly kick in and become part of your life.
But remember, during the changeover period, very little of the energy you’re used to will be there. It was automatic before. Now, what you’re doing is intentional and scary, at least at first. And the more power you give to the scary part, the more it will drain any energy you might muster together, and the longer you postpone freeing yourself and unleashing your own energy.
When you uncover yourself, your life’s flame is likely to burn minutely, maybe even just an ember, hardly alive: but always just alive enough to start up your life’s fire. Liken this flame to a tiny seed: the seed of your life, your dreams, and your own energy, like the seedling of a perfect flower just breaking the soil. To grow the flame—the seedling, the seed-flame that constitutes your life—takes caring, takes intention, and takes consciously being aware of that fragile seed-flame.
But with Factor-x just around the corner, it is as likely that every intention you have is obliterated by the strength of your Factor-x. To see and acknowledge the seed-flame takes courage. To provide nourishment for your seed-flame to grow takes courage. You’re continuously up against your Factor-x, society’s standards and norms, and your own reference framework. The best you can do is acknowledge how fragile your self is, how fragile your seed-flame is, and how fragile the real you is. Seeing and acknowledging the fragility of your seed-flame gives you a chance to see what you’re up against so you can muster the required courage.