Two Zen monks are sitting side by side while meditating on the bank of a river The older and wiser monk finally says to the younger monk, who has a look of dismay on his face, “Nothing else happens. This is it.”
If you are like me, then you surely sometimes wonder to yourself, “Is this it? Does nothing else happen”? Much of my life’s journey I have been on a quest to find meaning in my life. More often than not I do not feel successful. Sometimes I wonder if I am searching for something that is simply not there. Too often I feel like life is a treadmill and I’m getting nowhere. Is it possible that this is it and nothing else happens? Is my life nothing more than a revolving door with me doing nothing but coming to work, going home, falling asleep on my couch, waking up so I can go to bed, and then beginning the whole process over again the next morning? This is what my life often feels like. I want to believe I make a difference but do I? Occasionally I feel passionate but more often than not I feel like I have lost my mojo and that I am turning into a grumpy old man. The constant search for meaning can be exhausting. After originally writing these thoughts I got home one day and waiting for me was an email from a friend containing an article that she said reminded her of some of my previous thoughts. It was an article that talked about three major phases of life. The first and longest is the time we devote to accumulating wealth and material well-being. The second is the accumulation of spiritual things, i.e., gurus, seminars, retreats, and mystical experiences. The third phase is called divestment. You stop shopping for enlightenment and you make peace with not knowing. You make peace with life and accept that life is not a question to be answered or a problem to be solved but a gift to be enjoyed. I think I am now in this third phase. I need to relax in my “not knowing” and simply enjoy life as it unfolds.