“Keep yourself a stranger and pilgrim upon earth, to whom the affairs of this world are of no concern. Keep your heart free and lifted up to God, for here you have no abiding city.” –Thomas a Kempis, The Inner Life
On my solo journey through Europe, I have realized I have a much better time, and am led to much better places, when I don’t rely on a map. I wander, I ask to be led. I find.
It’s kind of the same way I am living my life.
Beside the Grand Canal in Venice, I started a conversation with two men having dinner next to me. They were pilots who had seen much of the world. But when I brought up the topic of happiness, they seemed confused.
“Can you be happy every day?” I wondered out loud.
Both of them shook their heads.
“But isn’t that the goal?” I asked.
One of the pilots started looking more intently at his phone, while the younger one squinted his eyes. “I guess I don’t think much about the goal of life,” the younger one said. “There is no goal….”
I wondered if goal was the appropriate word. Mission, maybe, I said. Or purpose. Yes, purpose.
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “The goal is to make a lot of money…and be unhappy….”
He squinted as he realized what he said. I cackled.
I am a happy person, though I was not always. The reason I am happy now is because I find meaning in my every day. I see Love everywhere, guiding my path. When I ask, I receive. The catch is that I don’t ask for a million dollars. I ask for what I think I need, and I leave room to recognize I may be wrong. I admit to God that They knows better.
What I’ve learned so far on my European adventure is that you don’t need to cling to a map to live your life. You can have a loose idea, but be open to being led. Because we are travelers whether we’re on foreign soil or not. We’re often lost on this earth, trying to find our way, merely doing what everyone else told us to do, seeing what everyone else tells us us to see. Unfortunately, we tend to believe in the things the less-than-wise advised would make us happy. It’s the discerning mind, the open heart, that searches for something greater, something true. The Discerning Mind, the Open Heart, digs and digs through all the muck and dirt we’ve been given, until she reaches the richest soil, the gem of the soul.
Faith. Love. Service. Gratitude.
That’s what you’ll find is at the root of you, if you care to look.