I have spent many days stringing and unstringing my instrument
while the song I came to sing remains unsung.
Instead of asking “what do I want from life?”, a more powerful question is, “what does life want from me?”
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
There is a story in the Veda of a prince out hunting in the woods. He spots a beautiful stag and follows him, deeper and deeper into the ancient forest. So intent is he upon the hunt that he loses track of the time and, when finally he realizes the day is ending, he is lost, so far from the familiar that, even if he had time to return to his horse before dark, he has no sense of the direction in which to go; and as night falls, he stops in his tracks, frightened of this dark so deep that he is unable to discern even faintly a track to follow.
The prince stands there, torn between this fear and his need–so many people back in his kingdom who depend upon him, who need his leadership, so much that his father had asked of him still undone. But he finds he cannot move, and he remains there, petrified in the dark for one hour, then two, the sounds of the forest growing louder around him, the animals inching closer, becoming more and more bold as the dark of the night thickens.
Finally he moves because he absolutely must. And as soon as he raises his foot and sets it forward, a path appears before him, shining as if in brightest moonlight. So shocked is the prince that he stops again. And when he stops, the path disappears, and in the sudden, ringing darkness, once again, the predators begin to move in toward him. And driven by fear and responsibility, he takes another step, and the path once again shines forth in the forest, he takes another step, and another. Each time he falters, unsure of where the next turn of the path may take him, the path begins to fade away and he forces himself to take the next step, into the unknown beyond the next curve, and in this way, of course, he is led out of the forest darkness, back to his horse and from there, now free of the oppression of the woods, back to his castle and his kingdom and the love of his people and the meaningful life awaiting him there.
What does life want from me? To ask the question is already to possess half the answer.
What is the song I came to sing? I will know it only by beginning to sing.
How do I find what it is I am meant to be doing here? Do what comes naturally, what feels right. If nothing feels right, not even standing still, then move in the direction of your fear.
How will I know when I am headed in the right direction? When it feels good. When you lose track of time. When you can experience joy, even for a moment, in doing it.
When should I begin? Days and nights are irresistibly passing. There is no time like the present. There is no time but the present. Begin today. Now.
Today I will find a reason to smile, if only for a moment, and I will ask of something greater than me–nature, God, love, whimsy, the tree outside my window–to show me a first step to take. And I will take it.