All at sea
In the BBC miniseries Bridsehead Revisited (which is amazing) the main character Charles describes himself as being “All at sea”. It’s a phrase that really defines that feeling of being lost, anchorless, scared, unsure of what to do, unsure of who you are. Even though most people will experience this feeling from time to time when you go through it, it can feel very lonely and like you are bobbing alone in murky, dark unchartered waters unsure of who you are, what is going to happen or what to do.
The periods of time when you feel lost can be so hard. We carry a lot of shame around the idea of being lost. Whether that’s pressure we put on ourselves or it’s a societal thing, we believe we should know what we want, where we want to live, what we want to do, who we want to be with, fundamentally we should know who we are. It’s hard to be honest about how lost we feel because we see other people making choices, pursuing careers, relationships, and generally just being people. The shame that you feel in the lost feeling seems to come up because without clarity and clear direction about our lives we feel as if we are nobody, nothing, as if we ourselves are void.
So instead of admitting to yourself or the people around you that you are lost and haven’t got a clue, we do a pretty good job of covering things up. We make plans for ourselves. We keep ourselves busy. We go into problem solving hyper drive searching at all hours for things to do, places to go. We settle for what’s good enough rather than what we really want. We get angry if anyone suggests we don’t know what’s going on and attach even deeper to ideas of who we think we are. We are a person because we do this job, we are a person because we are in this relationship, because we live in this city, etc. None of these things really help because down deep inside you are still telling yourself you are useless, pathetic and hopeless for not being happy, for not being clear, for not knowing.
Why is the unknowing so bad? Is it so wrong to not know what you want, is it so wrong to not know who you are? It’s definitely not an easy place to be but if you can get past the anger, shame and self judgement it can be a really soft, gentle and calm time. If you can quiet your critical mind and stop it from going round and round in circles there is peace to feel even when you’re at sea. If you can come from the starting point that you are someone, that there is nothing wrong with you, that it’s about what you want rather than who you are, then you can let go of the shame, anger and fear and just be with the open space.
You need to spend time in the open void space to allow what is meant to come to you. If it is constantly filled with stuff that is not what you really want you will never have room to welcome what you really want in. Maybe the times we spend at sea are there to show us that we are so much brighter, bigger and more expansive than who we think we are. You are light embodied and the light inside is indefinable. It’s limitless, bigger, brighter and more expansive than your awareness or thoughts can imagine or begin to understand. We have to be willing to sit in the void, to bob at sea, if we want to come through the other side. To see if your biggest, most expansive beliefs are possible, to know that you are loveable and to know and love yourself because you are you, not because you have this or that job, are in this or that relationship.
Have faith that the periods of not knowing, the periods at sea, do pass. That you will find a path, a direction, there will be relationships and jobs and life may seem more certain and sure. Maybe you will even look back and miss the time when everything and anything seems possible and life is limitless, expansive and open.