What You Can Do When Something Seems Missing.
It was a relatively gloomy day.
Not one of those days that call you to come outside. And yet I felt that Neshama was pulling me by my hand, saying “C’mon, I need some fresh air,” as if she just had to go out by some cosmic calling.
So we went to the old town, walked around the cobbled streets and the houses with big windows that create in your mind dreams about rooms flooded with light and big spacious dining tables. I thought to myself how much I’m looking forward to March when all the magnolia trees start to blossom and cover the streets with a pink carpet.
We searched for a spot with atmosphere, one that calls both you and Neshama (because honestly, when she knows what she wants, there’s no arguing). We found a green wooden bench planted between two boulevard trees and a stone fountain with a dolphin spitting water into a small well.
Dressed in a warm woolly coat and wrapped with a scarf that made my neck disappear, and almost my nose too, we both breathed fresh air and my heart lifted in happiness.
But the nature of happiness is to always hurry up to her next destination. So not five minutes had past when a woman with big eyes and a small mouth, silvery hair and a red and mustard chequered woolen skirt sat right next to us, in our piece of heavenly wooden bench, like a cloud so heavy it couldn’t stay hanging in the sky any longer.
It’s indeed not customary here to just start a conversation, but how can one stay indifferent when the cloud itself comes down to take space right next to you on the wooden bench?
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’m looking for the beginning point,” she said.
I’d never heard of such a thing before. How can you lose the beginning point? But I decided not to be rude. Israeli perhaps, but with fine tailored manners, so no embarrassments here.
“How did you lose the beginning point?” I asked in half-genuine, half-reserved curiosity.
“To tell you the truth, I have no idea. I felt that something was missing. At first I found it hard to put my finger on what exactly was missing. And then I had a thought: If only I knew the beginning point, I would be able to know what was missing. I thought I’ll be able to retrieve what went missing without me noticing. So inattentive was I that I couldn’t even say what exactly had gone missing.
But it bothered me so much that I couldn’t stay indifferent, and don’t think that I didn’t try to at first!
How could it be that something that’s missing will trouble you with such presence as if it’s standing right by your side? But I decided not to get too deeply into it because, you know how it is, when something’s missing, you’re so restless and have no patience to sit around and philosophize.
So, just like that, I decided to go out to the streets to look for the missing piece, and I know a book was written about this, but I tell you that my story is like no one else’s!
I live at the top of the hill, so I came down immediately through the descending streets. It made sense that what was missing went out and immediately rolled and tumbled down through the merciful slopes that transform into a nightmare for the legs as soon as you turn to face back the way you came.
I reached the big road and was concerned that what was missing had tried to cross the street and had been run over. But I assumed that was unreasonable in a country where everybody stops at the zebra crossing for anything that crosses on its way.
So I crossed the road and arrived at a small sandy garden with a wooden swing, a wooden pirate ship with climbing ropes tied to it, and a statue of which only the base was left attached to the ground, but I know there was once a cat statue there.
Maybe what was missing and the cat have gone together to the same place because they had both disappeared as if the earth had swallowed them up. “How far can what was missing go, it’s just unbelievable,” I thought to myself. And then I realized that a few hours had passed by in this search and I was truly tired. So I decided to look for a wooden bench with a good atmosphere and rest for a moment.”
“Wow! You really went through a journey,” I said empathetically. Now that I knew what exactly had happened, my heart really opened.
Once, something similar happened to me. Exactly the same, in fact. Well, the details are different because I don’t live at the top of the hill but by a river, and there’s no sand garden behind but a swamp with lotuses that flower only at night. But I too went out on such an exhausting journey to look for something that was missing.
And I didn’t know how it could be that something that’s missing can argue with you so loudly and with such determination as if it was there right next to you.
“And how do you feel now,” I asked, “after you did everything you could think of and still didn’t find it? How do you really feel when you’re sitting silently next to me on the green wooden bench in the garden with an atmosphere?”
“Funny you should ask. I feel a little bit relieved,” she said in complete surprise, “as if something heavy was lifted from me. As if this whole journey had brought me to exactly where I was supposed to be. It’s hard to explain, and maybe you’ll think I’m just talking nonsense or inventing things, but I think I’m beginning to understand something very important in this whole journey.”
“What is it? Please share.” I was really curious.
“Look, after I tried at any cost to avoid what was missing, and after I stopped pretending that nothing’s missing, and after I went out and tried to find it quickly quickly to get it over with and feel good finally, and after I looked for all the possible shortcuts, and after I’d gone through all the reasons why I should probably stop searching for what was missing because I’ll never find it, I suddenly realized something significant.”
“That the beginning point is always where you are,” I completed her sentence.
“And when you’ve finally found the beginning point, you will never again want to look for the shortcuts, and somehow in all of it, what was missing is not missing anymore,” she continued, nodding like someone who understands.
“Because your heart knows that from here, where you find yourself, your meaning, your inner world, you’d never want to go anywhere else in the world,” I added.
And just like that, even though she lives at the top of the hill and I’m next to a river, and even though the day was still gloomy and the skies painted in blue and grey together, we sat silently in the knowing of the one who went out for a journey and eventually found she’s always at the beginning point of the next magical thing.
(*Neshama is the word for soul in Hebrew and is also commonly used as a love name like sweetheart).
‘Neshama’ is the word for ‘soul’ in Hebrew, and is also commonly used to address someone lovingly, like ‘sweetheart’.
Shelly Sharon is a Life Alignment master and a contemporary meditation teacher, who infuses the ancient insight teachings with her own life-long conversation with art, poetry, writing and experiences of a life lived to its fullness. She knows deep in her bones how life looks like beyond feeling not-enough and self-doubt. Her work is dedicated to those who want to turn their pain into power and their mess into a message, living with a heart wide open. She’s been practicing contemplative practices for 20 years, and since 2007 has been offering retreats, workshops and one-on-one Life Alignment meetings worldwide. You can connect with her on her website or Instagram.