Yesterday my current stage of introspection and reflection ended. While I ran toward the beach, I was thinking about a passage I read recently in Simple Abundance, a book of daily meditations intended to help Modern Woman make sense of her life. In that passage the author asks herself and readers to consider what it is that makes her happy. She presses you to identify needs and wants separately, and then to pare down to the core of your happiness. I thought I knew the answer immediately and wrote about it in my personal journal. But for a couple of days I found myself going back to that passage, reviewing my priorities in terms of needs vs. wants. I kept asking myself, "Really, what do I need to make me happy?" My initial thoughts didn't quite get to the bottom-most layer of my being. As it usually does, running peels back the layers of thoughts piled up like lasagna in my mind. I listened to Ray Lamontagne on my iPod, my feet lighting in sync on the pavement, my entire body felt calmer and purer than, well, ever that I can remember. Odd, I thought. I looked ahead toward the beach...I saw the gently rolling waves...and windswept sand. I felt the chilly winter breeze blowing off the Gulf. Suddenly, instantaneously, I felt like I had broken through an inner emotional layer protecting the core of my being. Air rushed out of my lungs -- had I actually gasped? Tears hugged my eyes. What I discovered was not emotional but THAT I had discovered it was overwhelming. All my needs are being met, and most of my wants. After food, shelter and security, I need to be heard, understood and feel my ideas are respected. That's why I write, speak, and study languages (the more languages I speak, the more people I can talk with!) I feel my most complete when someone really "gets" me, and I feel invisible when they do not. Looking back, I have always been this way. I just never realized I would need to be understood in order to be happy. Yes, I need you to listen but I also need you to respect me, even if you disagree with my values. (Oh this explains so much!)
Now that I have made this Enormous Discovery, I feel my quest into the past 40 years has ended. For now, at least. Moving on. This thought popped into my mind yesterday as I rounded the corner to the homestretch: One can not look ahead until she looks back and understands where has been. My first 40 were packed with travel and adventure; achievements beyond my comprehension and failures I learned to learn from; love and friendship; finding soul-mates and painful losses; and so much more. I have now lived and relived my first 40. I'm ready to move forward and embrace new experiences, new Enormous Discoveries in the next 40+...and beyond!