What are you looking for? How do you know if you’ve found it?
When I was 18 I was looking for excitement, movement, people. I found it here in NYC, that’s for sure. But sometimes the desire for the things you are looking for fades after you find them, and new desires take their place. Or maybe you realize that you don’t want what you thought you wanted. For me, I’ve had my fill. Now I need and desire new and different things. I know I am not what I once wanted. Finding ourselves is often a process of elimination.
This is healthy as long as it leads us to realize the ever-changing self, but it can be destructive when combined with contempt or scorn. It seems from the time we are adolescents we search for our identity, for what defines us. We adopt sports teams, music genres and political affiliations. Perhaps this is the beginning of the loss of childhood, where a human being responds to people and things immediately, without an identity interfering. Is defining ourselves a means of relating to others or an obstacle? It is true that through excluding something or someone we often connect with others. How often do we talk about what we hate vs. what we love? So we often use rejection as a mechanism for connection, how ironic.
Everything we desire is a skin we put on until we realize we are more than skin, at which point we shed our desires for as long as we can tolerate skinlessness.
I used to really love New York City. Every time I went home–even for Christmas–I wanted nothing more than to return here, to what I deemed the center of the world, the only place that challenged me. About a year ago something suddenly changed: I realized, panic-stricken, I had to leave. I realized that what is really important to me is the only thing missing from New York City. Pad Thai delivered to my door at 3 a.m. be damned; I need trees!
At the time I had no savings. Leaving would require a long-term plan. That plan has spent a year in the oven and now it’s about ready. Again, I haven’t left yet, but it’s all I can think about. I am in limbo, just waiting for my train out. Until that time, I am skinless.