Twenty-one years ago, I began a quest of self-discovery that is only becoming clear to me now. I was flying for United Airlines at the time, well before my Parkinson’s diagnosis, and had grown unsatisfied with a life of going through the motions without a greater purpose or goal.
Most of the usual culprits of modern distraction did not interest me greatly: money and power held no special significance, and although fame intrigued, and eventually infecting me with an unrealistic – at least for me – definition of success, my reality stomped that out decisively when my first book did okay but was not distributed in a second edition by Ballantine.
I had looked to increased knowledge as a remedy for a dormant soul, devouring non-fiction histories and political books, scouring several newspapers daily, and often found myself entrenched in arguments that mattered little, if at all, and left me ill at ease and unfulfilled. My ego was firmly running the show, and I was no closer to happiness or a sense of peace.
Fortunately, Parkinson’s intervened, introducing irrevocable truths that could not be ignored. It has taken fourteen years, but I am beginning to now see the path that has always been there but is disguised by a society that places little value on the only life habits that lead to joy. I have written about much of this in The Lost Intruder, which describes the process of my growth up through about 2016.
The past two years have been difficult as I slowly sort out often conflicting inputs of body, mind, and soul, but I believe that I have learned several things that inspire promise for the journey. Here they are.
Embrace your personal challenge. We all have struggles. Hold yours close, learning, living, and loving with this integral part of you.
Try not to get caught up with meaning. It is unlikely to hold any answers and may be beyond our ken, if it exists at all. Be satisfied that compassion and kindness can provide the same warm contentment as unequivocal purpose.
Press on. Don’t quit exploring yourself; every experience is valuable, especially depression. Melancholy was the term used by the ancients to describe this transformative, albeit often excruciating, process of personal reflection. Not all pain was meant to be “cured,” which in today’s world usually means masking discomfort with a series of drugs. The examined life is the only one worth living (apologies to Socrates).
Trust in the process of life. Know in your heart, through faith, meditation, or a feeling of unknown origin that on the deepest level, it is all okay; it really is.