"The journey is the destination."--"Physical Phil" from October Road, Pilot
The easy answer is: MY KIDS. Those two little boys whose burps and farts, cries and screeches - whose very presence - have filled up my world for more than ten years now.
Elizabeth Stone said that having children is like having your heart walking around outside of your body. For me, it feels more like two baby-shaped pieces of myself have been let loose into the world and two similarly-shaped holes left in my body.
At first I could not bear to be away from them for more than a few minutes, then a few hours, and now I can handle even a few days. But if I think one of them is lost, or I am not absolutely certain of where they are - even for a few minutes - that old panic starts to surface and I feel the loss again in my body.
The truth is, however, that living for them gets me into trouble. It leads to unrealistic expectations of behavior (mine and theirs) and a desire for appreciation of my efforts that no human being, especially a child, can ever meet as fully as one might hope.
And this can lead to all manner of bad things: anger, resentment, despair, longing, sometimes even hatred.
So I am trying to learn to live for myself again. And it is not easy. Because what else is there?
Writing, as Sy Syfransky notes:
"...[D]on't wait for the English language to bat her eyes at you. If she does, don't wait for her to whisper something sexy in your ear. If she does, don't expect her to go home with you. If she does, don't imagine she's going to spend the night. If she does, don't ask for her phone number the next morning. If you do ask, and she pretends she hasn't heard you and slips into her dress and heads for the door, do not, if you ever want to see her again, tell her how used that makes you feel."
is a fickle mistress; amazing when she shows up, devastating when she doesn't.
Work, even of the best kind, can only take you so far. Any proper job I have ever had has left me feeling a bit empty when it is all I concentrate on. Is there any job - making widgets, selling tchotchkes, counting beans - that is worth living for? If so, I have yet to find it. That's not to say that good work is not worth doing, and doing well, just not worth living for.
Relationships with others - my husband, my family, my friends - both give me great joy, and sometimes, cause me great pain, but I learned long ago that no single relationship is worth living for. No one can handle that kind of pressure and these people I love have their own lives to live, they cannot make mine worth living.
So the search continues....
And then it dawns on me: the search is the thing. The journey is the destination.
That thing that I am searching for is all of these things - children, work, relationships, food, travel, experiences - and so much more, in a perfect balance of agony and ecstasy, hope and despair, longing and fulfillment.
It is nothing less than Presence. God. Love.
And that's what I live for. All of it.
[This post is part of a writing event called What I Live For. To read what others writers live for, go to www.satyarobyn.com and click the EVENTS tab.]