What’s Missing From Your Life is The Real You

What’s actually missing?

I’m working on my second book.

It’s a prequel to “Blank Canvas: How I Reinvented My Life After Prison.”

I’m capturing the journey that landed me in prison and the lessons learned in the decade of reinventing my life.

In the chapter I’m writing, I’m speaking to my younger self.

It’s the version of myself who had acquired massive professional and materialistic success but felt woefully unfulfilled and empty.

He knew something was missing but could never pinpoint what that was.

He felt lost, stuck, and frustrated. He desired more beyond his meaningless work and superficial lifestyle.

He wanted to become the creator he had always dreamed of but had grown to believe was impossible.

He wanted to take the ideas in his mind, those beautiful sparks that made him feel alive, and turn them into reality.

But his beliefs, fears, self-doubt, raging unworthiness, and inadequacy stood before him, unrelenting and unwavering.

They told him he wasn’t worthy of achieving his dreams, he sure as hell wasn’t capable, he had no idea what he was doing, and to top it all off, that life wasn’t available to him.

It was available to “them,” but not him. Never him.

It would only become available to him when he achieved a level of financial and materialistic security that would buy him the freedom he believed he needed to create what he wanted to create.

So he doubled down on what he knew: money and materialism.

He made deposits into an imaginary bank account, waiting for the day the ledger read “enough.”

He didn’t know how much was enough, only that he hadn’t reached it yet. He was waiting for the day the tumblers in his mind would all align and unlock the elusive “enough.”

When he achieved it, everything would fall into place. He would find what was missing, his life would be whole, and he would be complete.

He would have the right cars, watches, clothes, and dinner reservations. He’d secure the lifestyle that would liberate himself into a world of creation.

And not until then. So he kept making deposits, but the required balance to maintain the account kept climbing.

It turned out that enough was never quite enough.

It was a superficial existence, chasing short-term high after short-term high, leaving him to think,

“Is this all there is?”

As the emptiness grew, so did his need to escape further into material things and the bottom of the bottle.

He chased anything and everything outside of himself to feel something other than how he felt.

He just knew one day he’d find it; he had to. His life depended on it. What he didn’t know, and maybe only comes with the gift of hindsight, is this,

He was running on a treadmill, believing he’d catch the horizon. Nothing external would ever fill him from within, no matter how hard he tried or how fast he ran.

I feel his pain, fear, and self-doubt; I feel his longing for more and his exhaustion and frustrations; I feel how backed into a corner he feels.

Writing is a challenging life calling.

It requires focus, resilience, commitment, self-trust, surrendering to a force that lives beyond the mortal plane, and allowing the words to come through your fingers without getting in your own way.

When I embraced his pain and got out of my own way, I wrote the words he needed to hear all those years ago,

“What’s missing from your life is the real you.”

I love writing; it’s what I am meant to do, and lines like this that appear seemingly out of nowhere reinforce that belief.

The line has stopped me in my tracks with its simple truth and wicked complexity. All the most significant life lessons are both simple and complex.

Simple in their unmitigated truth, complex in their execution.

I was living entirely out of alignment with my true nature, and no external would or could ever solve for that.

Chasing is interesting because it’s two actions at once. We move toward our target every bit as much as we move away from where we began.

One foot toward equals one foot away.

My chase led me away from myself.

Both out of the belief that externals were the path to happiness and secondly, a life of creation was utterly terrifying.

A life of creating stabbed at the very wounds I was running from, being seen, heard, and understood as my authentic self and ultimately rejected.

My best had never been good enough, so I wasn’t good enough. If I wasn’t good enough, how could I possibly be worthy of such joy?  

It was only when I practiced awareness, accepted who I truly am and want to become, stepped off the treadmill, and took the first step toward myself that I made meaningful progress.

As Rumi said,

“What you seek is seeking you.”

I always thought the outcome made me happy, and it does, temporarily.

But, becoming the person who commits to creating the outcome is way more fun.

Becoming the person who creates the outcome means becoming the person who consistently faces his fears and walks out of his mental prisons.

I always thought what was missing was the freedom to create.

It turns out what was missing was expressing my creativity; that’s where I find freedom.

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