12.08.2010

When You're Craving Meaning

I'm a craver. I always look for the next thing to keep me busy and hopefully, proactive. It's an addictive cycle that I've grown used to now, though it took me several years to get comfortable with it.

Craving for meaning is definitely one of those Maslow's hierarchy of needs type things. But seriously, what does it mean? Why do we need to have meaning and don't just float around bohemian-like? Is floating like driftwood among flotsam that bad?

After all, by merely being here, in the here and now, doesn't that obviously entail we already mean something? There's a reason we're all here, because we need to be--we're supposed to be! Even though we would have liked to have seen prior eras and some of us are old souls and some others are born ahead of our time...our here and now was meant to be.

The creative mind, however, unhappy with just letting things be, with boring old status quo, wants to find new perspectives and new ideas. Wants to put things on their end or inside out and see how they look that way for a while.

It's oftentimes so enlightening just having a few quiet moments to peek into the well inside. Listen to the drippy noise in the shadow. Hear the echoes of little criticisms, the howling of fears, the incessant chattering of internal discussions. I do this sometimes, because I need to connect with what's going on in there, and to focus on what I might be craving next. Weeding cravings out is much like panning for gold out of dirt. Turning to the little craving that's tugging at your sleeve, sighing, and saying "yes, what?"

Whenever I have my existential micro-crises, I go through a series of emotions usually in rapid succession. Discovery of these moments and the emotions tied to them is like realizing I need to begin peeling layers off an onion. An onion that causes me less tears than it used to years ago. It's either the scars that make me numb to some of the more pointed layers, or else, the more experienced hand that goes over shaper edges without cutting itself up.

Emotions during a lull hover on sadness, despair, hopelessness, internal discussion...but hopefully reacting at some point, when a little spark of the imagination lights and warms up the interior of our echo-y cavern. The negative emotions are quickly replaced by rational thinking, discovery, hope, planning...and then the first step forward on a new direction. Lick that finger and stick it up in the air, see where the wind's blowing from.

The funny realization I came up with, during my last micro-existential crisis, is that I actually like empty space. It has serious therapeutic potential. Now, I need to consider that, perhaps, it's a little bit of a reverse psychology attempt. An attempt with the aim to snap myself out of a negative mindset that borders on a chillingly drafty chasm.

But in all truthfulness, empty space, spare time, lulls, and all such occasions when there's not much to do (at work, or after you've just finished a large project) are neither futile nor a time to be sorrowful. It's definitely not a time to despair about the future. If we were meant to see the future we'd all be psychics. It's actually one of those rare, to-be-treasured opportunities to fill ourselves up with something new, something that's not only distracting and encompassing, engrossing and passionate, but also something fruitful. The brandy to warm our soul if you will.

That initial spark of new things coming our way is not unlike the smallest chemical and electrical sparks that happen inside our bodies and in nature every day. Those little miracles we've yet to really understand. Large, eventful, meaningful things always start small, don't you know. Not everything rushes in making a great, big bang of an entrance and ready for their closeup.

Inklings are good. Likes are good. These are the breadcrumbs I typically follow when looking to "fill up" again on a new endeavor or looking for some hope against the foggy horizon. There's oftentimes no better inspiration than a glimmer into other people's best. Artists's work and musician's harmonies are warm expressions of what's inside and that needs to come out in one shape or another.

I hope to find lots of inspiration in reading, but sometimes, my reading absorbs me and takes me away from the here and now. That's when it's time to come back. When reality and the three dimensions gingerly tug on the sleeve to get you back on track.

Today is one such day. Yes, I definitely feel a tug at my sleeve...time to look at what I can come up next. Time to look up at what might be around the bend.