The Gift Of Restlessness.
It begins with a simple tinge — a silent whisper in the corners of your soul.
A hint of something you do not give much attention to. You go about your day, your week, your life, unaffected. And then it gradually weaves its way into your routines, raising its volume from a whisper to an echo, bouncing off the walls you’ve put up to resist the natural impulse to grow, evolve, become.
But oh the infinite trails you find to keep avoiding it. To steer around it, and ignore the reverberations. Once again, you go about your life, but something has shifted.
What once lived in the corners has surfaced and taken form, walking beside you down the aisle in the grocery store, keeping you up late at night, making itself at home in your dailiness. It has gained momentum, a step ahead, preventing you from outrunning it.
The hollow places inside of you that you’ve been trying to cram with the impermanent things of this world are magnified. Turned into chasms, a deep well you are terrified to peek into for fear of what you may find in the darkness.
What once was a whisper is now a clanging in your ears, in a language you do not yet understand.
You have become the one for whom the bell tolls.
It took me a while to recognize this as restlessness — a while being years. At first, when I couldn’t yet name it, it scared me. Suddenly everything that meant something seemed to lose its meaning, the one I had assigned to it.
Stripped of meaning, what was left was an emptiness that confused me. It still does.
The trajectory of one’s life is dependent upon the decisions we make colliding with the unseen forces of life. I had made decisions, expecting a certain outcome, and expecting that outcome to make me happy. I went to school, got that degree, worked odd jobs I had no desire for, turned into a functional adult.
And then it began — the more haunted me.
“There must be more than this.”
That pivotal moment of adulthood where we are given the choice to remain the same, or risk being cast into the journey to find ourselves. Our true selves, having shed all the roles we play.
Here’s the catch though — the transition period. That time you spend deciding, weighing the two options… some days eager to change, taking steps in the direction that breathes life into your parched soul. Other days succumbing to distractions and finding temporary shortcuts to fulfillment.
The time this takes is different for each and every one of us. Some decide in a flash, when the sand of life’s hourglass buries them too deep. For others, like myself, it takes years.
Until we fully commit to one choice or the other, we find ourselves shackled in the web of restlessness. Paralyzed, unable to move with ease. I found myself stuck, jittery, impatient, easily frustrated, going through the motions… chasing an elusive sense of purpose. Symptoms of the restless.
I used to see restlessness as a disease, a tapeworm in my system I needed to be rid of. It was an itch I could never scratch for good; a murmur of discontent in the backdrop of my life that would not cease.
I tried the usual amateur remedies — distraction, avoidance, gratifying my ego, shopping, food, getting another degree, quitting one meaningless job and taking on another, reading yet another self-help book.
These all worked temporarily, but the underlying current of discontent remained, resurfacing each time. There is a point in every adult life where we must stop running from that which is chasing us and simply face it. This is my attempt to do so.
This is me facing the restlessness and asking it what it wants.
Nowadays I’m beginning to see restlessness as a gift, handed down to me from a better version of myself, the one that knows the goodness I’m capable of in this world. I see it not as a chasm, a hollow emptiness that needs to be filled, but an opening. As scared as I still am on most days to peek in, I do.
Maybe there is something beyond the darkness, a well full of my untapped potential. Maybe it’s an invitation, asking me to show up in exchange for that elusive peace of mind we all seek. That’s not something I want to turn down.
Turns out all restlessness wants from me is my attention, my honest and wholehearted commitment to pursuing a life stuffed to the brim with purpose. To keep chugging along, finding my way to the place that calls me. A place I can finally call home.
May you face the chasms you’ve been avoiding with a brave heart and strong hands, for there will be much soil to till.
Follow the restlessness wherever it may lead, and do not be afraid to ask it what it wants.
Anokina Shahbaz believes that each of us is here for a reason, and it has something to do with realizing and manifesting our most authentic self. Follower of the teachings of Marianne Williamson and Eckhart Tolle, Anokina is a devoted student of the sacred art of self-discovery and creative expression. She is also a kindness advocate, believer in miracles and soul mates, dark-chocolate-lover, journal-collector, and purpose-seeker. She probably couldn’t live without journaling, Yoga, Celine Dion, or the smell of lavender. She is trying to find a way to get paid for finding meaning in the mundane. At the end of the day, she’s just an introvert trying to live in an extrovert world. Anokina writes about creativity, spirituality, chasing the muse, and actualizing our highest self. You can find her musing on her blog, contributing to Elephant Journal, or tweeting inspiration on Twitter and Instagram.