“The only thing to find is what’s already here.”
I wrote that on a post-it, and I’ve been staring at it by my desk for several months now, considering. Sometimes, it seems almost profound. Other days (peevish days) I think, “No duh, Sherlock.”
Today, I’m going back and forth about whether it’s totally obvious or really keen and insightful.
What we look for does tend to be that in which we already believe and which we expect to find — we assume that it exists or we wouldn’t go looking for it to begin with. It is also true, though, that when I go searching after something, mostly I approach that process as if what I’m seeking is something that is missing. Like it doesn’t exist yet or it doesn’t exist anymore — at least not for me, not enough, at least not now, in this life.
There’s an inherent contradiction in here. It’s like Schrödinger’s cat — being and not-being at the same time. Searching does presuppose the existence of a thing. But until it’s discovered and demonstrated, it can feel more like an absence than a presence. Huh.
So is it already here, just waiting to be found? Or is it not here until we find it? Yes.
As I recall, I wrote this note after an improvisation workshop. A group of us had been free-styling, without any particular context or stated intentions, just moving around and making sounds and responding to each other in a space. After a while, our facilitator asked, “What did you discover?” I observed (vapidly or brilliantly, I’m not sure which) that the only thing to discover was what was already present.
I had been noticing in that exercise that none of us was needing to make anything. We didn’t have to create a scene or a story. We didn’t have to generate an identity or a character with purpose or passion or peacemaking. We could just be together and find what already was and is. And that could be pretty much anything.
It could be anything from my ability to move my pinky in a specific way to someone else’s ability to tense up and emit an anguished roar. Or their capacity to communicate affection and my capacity to move into that or away from it. Someone might bring lightness into the group, someone else might invoke a heavy energy. Conflict, resolution, war, peace, love, indifference, connection, rejection. All of it was already there, already available within our individuality and our awareness of relationship with each other.
So I’m wondering, now, how this realization might inform my search for all the things I’m looking for — strength, joy, friendship, plenty, ease, grace, love, kindness, beauty.
I’m looking for it because I believe in it, I believe it exists. But if I’m looking for it as if it’s missing, then unconsciously I may be perpetuating its absence.
We’re taught to go after life like we’re following a treasure map. X marks the spot of fulfillment and enlightenment. We long for greener pastures — the happiness and contentment that we hope will be on the other side of a fix or attainment or accomplishment.
If only I had more money, more friends, more faith… If only I could heal this, or atone for that… If only people could live in harmony, if only this election will go how I want it to go…
This isn’t all bad — it keeps us motivated and moving and engaged. However, our perpetual search for some ultimate treasure can become ingrained as an habitual sense of lack.
I think we probably have to figure out a way to have it both ways — imagining the more beautiful world we know is possible, working and progressing and changing what we can towards that end *AND* at the same time allowing that it’s already here. Whatever we’re seeking is only ever to be found right here, in this, as this.
Wishing, hoping, and pining for something that seems missing, lost, insufficient, absent, or impossibly gone — that’s danged frustrating and sad if that’s the only way we ever are with our dreams and prayers and goals.
But if we can remember (at least a little bit) that we’ve already arrived, that it’s all right here awaiting our discovery, our awakening, our emergence into it — that’s a whole lot more hopeful. It may also be more creative. Because looking for it here rather than always away out there could be the very thing that brings it into our experience.
We’re standing right on top of the X on the treasure map. The X is us, we’re the spot.
I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, November 19, 10:00 am at Maple Street Dance Space. With the divine Patty Stephens. XO, Drew
©2023 Drew Groves