The Mountain is You

Yokohama Harbour
Yokohama Harbour, June 2023

I am back home. After travelling for four months, I am back in the country I call home. Near the people I call home. Feeling a little rootless. While the job hunt is going steady, I am also struggling with my newfound freedom in a place that (kind of) demands me to have a job– living isn’t cheap, especially when there’s a so-called ‘cost of living crisis’ going on.

Yet it’s freedom like this also creates a lot of time to explore my passions, my hobbies, my own thoughts and intentions– and my relationships too. With myself and with others. It is easy to blame circumstance, or other people, for the things in life that are not going quite as expected. So instead of being a Negative Nancy, I have been reading, you know, educating myself while the whole world seems to be slowly crumbling.

It was Oscar Wilde I think, who said: “With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy?“. With everything going on, how long this freedom lasts is a different thing. So far I have been able to be and go however or wherever I please. I can count myself lucky. But the icky feeling stays.

Some say that life was always like this, and in a certain (kind of Stoic, existential) way I can agree. That does not mean I think we should just continue as we please. We owe it to ourselves to prioritise growth, self development and, most of all, kindness. Again, for ourselves and the people around us.

Ah, in case you were wondering about the books I’m reading:
The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery, Brianna Wiest
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle
Life Time, Russell Foster

It has been a bit of a wild ride, making me aware of my own ignorance. There have been a lot of uncomfortable paragraphs that made me think that I might want to do it all differently, or that the book is wrong, or… well, to put it simply, it made me question my thoughts. So having some time, or rather taking some time, right now that I am in-between jobs, made me sit with my discomfort. And everything just kind of hit me, but Brianna Wiest put it better in her book:

Happiness is not something you can chase. It is something you have to allow. This likely will come as a surprise to many people, as the world is so adamant about everything from positive psychology to motivational Pinterest boards. But happiness is not something you can coach yourself into. Happiness is your natural state. That means you will return to it on your own if you allow the other feelings you want to experience to come up, be felt, be processed, and not resisted. The less you resist your unhappiness, the happier you will be. It is often just trying too hard to feel one certain way that sets us up for failure.

The other day I stumbled upon a commencement speech from J. B. Pritzker, the Governor of Illinois. His speech was about we should try to not be an idiot, and how in order to spot an idiot, you have to look for the person who is cruel. While the speech was somewhat light-hearted, it was eloquently put. He ended the speech with: “The kindest person in the room is often the smartest.“. Often, we perceive intelligence as unconnected to kindness. There are plenty of people that we deem smart, yet their character is cruel. This made me aware, once again, the importance of being kind, aware, patient– with ourselves most of all.

I will be allowing myself some time. That will include time to find a job, time to rest, but also time to simply be present. To explore my interests, to let my thoughts wander and rethink old beliefs– without overthinking too much. After all, the now is really all we ever have, isn’t that right?