Perhaps both. Many of us have experienced a singular moment of profound clarity when all the chaos and confusion we’re immersed in is washed away and the world suddenly makes perfect sense. All our questions are answered. For perhaps the first time in our lives we understand our place in this existence and what we’re doing here, or at least what we’re supposed to be doing here. For once we are no longer seekers, we are finders. We are found. Everything is laid out before us and we are shown both our purpose and our history. We discover, much to our surprise, we are in exactly the right place, at exactly the right moment, and we know exactly what’s ahead for us.
Like a benevolent haze, a sense of perfect rightness settles over us, and while we bask in its warmth, it never occurs to us this instant of pure lucidity will be fleeting. Yet it is almost immediately snatched away before we can even begin to grasp its repercussions or possibilities. Within minutes, or at best, hours our impressions begin to fade. Our memories of perfect clarity assume a fuzzy quality and we begin to wonder if we imagined the entire, rather odd experience. We rush to explain away what just happened to us, seeking the comfort of familiar ground in logical rationalizations. We’re tired, over-worked, stressed. Our rational selves conclude any viable reasonable explanation is preferable to the absurd truth. So we quiet the new and yet familiar sense of restlessness within us. We brush aside our burgeoning conviction there is something more out there; that we are more than we allow ourselves to be.
Because if we don’t silence our doubts we risk disturbing our peace. We start to question the status quo. If we begin to have reservations about our current direction and where it’s taking us, we will likely be forced to confront some uncomfortable realities. We may discover we no longer like the person staring back at us in the mirror, or we may no longer recognize the face as our own. Inwardly we are changed, but those evolutions were not allowed to manifest themselves on the outside. How long can we continue living in this divided state between who we used to be and who we are now?
So we hush our doubts. We silence our questions and cover our restlessness, hoping to lull our inner selves back to sleep. We’re not ready to go there. We’re not prepared to confront our illusions. Our restiveness is forced to settle beneath the dream of forgetfulness we thrust upon it. Though our disquiet sleeps, it does not die, even as we go about our daily lives hiding behind the façade of normalcy. We press ourselves to accept our old limitations and reluctantly let go of those precious moments of perfect understanding.
While our restlessness is banished for a few weeks or months, it is not forever exiled from our psyche. Instead it waits, constantly searching for a gap in our defenses, stealing itself against a moment of weakness on the part of our rational selves. One of those moments we’re not all right, when we’re no longer convinced we know everything and we’re ready to stop lying to ourselves about this being all there is and ever will be.
So it begins again, our search for something more, only now we’ve forgotten the way to a once familiar gate. We stumble around in the darkness, unsettled to discover we lost what little ground we gained in our last attempt. We revisit the past and try to recall old strategies that used to work for us only to find they are no longer effective, or are only partially effective, because we are no longer who we once were. So we must seek out new strategies and painstakingly fit them into our new vision of ourselves, as though every time we fall and fail we are compelled to go back to the starting line and begin again. Perhaps this is our penance for allowing ourselves to forget, for so casually rejecting wisdom’s gifts. To go back to the beginning and carefully regain lost ground until we learn the value of her gifts.
Except now we’ve forgotten the way and we are dismayed to recall the treasure we so desperately seek was once within our grasp, and we carelessly discarded it. So we commit to our pursuit with renewed determination. We read, we study, we pray, we mediate, we contemplate. We seek others traveling the same road in the hope they discovered some secret shortcut they might be willing to share. We grow discouraged at our slow progress. We don’t remember our search being so difficult the first time. Because back then we assumed revelation was a gift of a benevolent universe, or a random circumstance of chance we just happened to stumble upon.
Now we know better and we grow disheartened when we are not immediately shown the way. Maybe we even abandon our search altogether, and once more send our souls back to sleep. But to those who persevere wisdom continues to test their worthiness and occasionally drops precious pearls to mark their way. Though we are grateful for her encouragement, they do not satisfy us, for these we knew once and we are after more this time. We yearn to experience again that singular moment of transparency and comprehension. This time, we promise ourselves, when we find it we will value it for the prize it is. This time we won’t talk ourselves out of our hard won progress. This time it’s going to be different, because we’re different. We’re more. We understand.