Is this all there is?


What all is out there

I cannot claim to recall what I first saw as I came into this world. But I do hold memories of the wonder I felt as a child as I looked up at the evening sky and the stars. Or as I lay on the grass for hours, watching an array of ants or beetles carrying morsels of food. As I think back to those times of wonderment, I can still sense the question at the core, “What all is out there?”

Growing up, seeing and trying things for the first time, leaving home and going to hostel, getting into a new job, place, assignment. Into the unknown every time. At all such junctures, I sensed support from that accompanying question, “What all is out there?”

Life seemed to accompany with surprises galore. As I walked the pathway of new decisions, new insights, new direction, new philosophies. And as I continued to negotiate life’s surprises, what remained with me was, “What all is out there?”

“What all is out there?” It was about embracing and trusting that first step. It was about seeing things for the first time. It was about that unquestioning and unconditional mindset to take it all in. It was about listening to the life and energy that surrounds. It was about feeling connected to all things. It was about that undeniable faith that the world gives.

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way

– Mary Hopkins, 1968

But somewhere along the way, that childlike wonder, vision and instinct seemed to dim. What seeped in was disenchantment and boredom. A preoccupation with things that are artificial. The burden of living up to other’s expectations. The loss of the allure of things acquired and goals achieved. The ‘Wow!’ and the newness of the first time giving way to ‘Being there, Done that’ refrain. The question taking center stage in my mind was, “Is this all there is?”

Is this all there is

“Is this all there is?” I wonder how this has taken root within me. Is this a mindset shift that gives undue importance to my knowing rather than feeling? Is this the conditioning from my education and peers which extol knowledge and wisdom as must-have virtues and gives short shrift to emotion and intuition? Is this my refuge from the sheer inadequacy I feel in dealing with a complex world?

Even though I discipline myself to ‘count my blessings’ and think of all that I have achieved in terms of position, wealth and family, I sense an emptiness and a lack of fulfillment. A feeling of disorientation and loss. Why is this I wonder?

I also sense another change in me. I now think much more of how much time and opportunity I have left rather than how far I have come and what I have achieved. If only I could recapture that ‘sense of wonder’ from my childhood for this remaining time and opportunity I have. I know in my heart of hearts that this could be that unfailing antidote against all that boredom and disenchantment I feel. But how could I do this?

Authors Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen in ‘Four Ways of Being that Create the Foundations of A Great Life, Great Leadership and A Great Organization’ point to a way when they identify one of the foundations as, ‘Being committed to something bigger than oneself’. In the words of the authors, “This is being committed in a way that shapes one’s being and actions so that your ways of being and acting are in the service of realizing something beyond your personal concerns for yourself – beyond a direct personal payoff. As they are acted on, such commitments create something to which others can also be committed and have the sense that their lives are about something bigger than themselves. This is an important aspect of a great personal life, great leadership and a great organization”.

As I muse I realize that the way to handle “Is this all there is” is in finding and pursuing a Cause that ignites a passion in me. A cause bigger than myself, that which energises and lights me up from within. What may this Cause be for me I am left wondering.

***
A quote from George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Man and Superman’.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”25
***

In learning……….. Shakti Ghosal

Acknowledgements:
1) Four Ways of Being that Create the Foundations of A Great Life, Great Leadership and A Great Organization– by Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen, a Harvard Business School research paper, Nov. 2013.

2) Man and Superman– by George Bernard Shaw, 1903

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43 thoughts on “Is this all there is?

  1. Yes sometimes even I wonder where the adventure went with me compared to the curiosity we had as children. It was very healthy to feel that way about the world. Trying to recapture that would be the challenge indeed ^_^

    • Antonio,

      Can you observe your true, intrinsic self as contrasted to the person you have ‘wound up becoming’ based on your life’s conditioning and socialisation process ? This is not difficult if you try; one way of doing this is to practise ‘being out here in the court’ where the other person or situation actually is rather than looking from inside yourself at something occurring elsewhere like from ‘the stands’.

      Once you start getting the hang of this, you will regain being that intrinsic you which still possesses all those childlike qualities that you recall.

      I would be delighted to support you in this endeavour.

      God bless!

      Shakti

    • Hello,

      I suppose one needs to always maintain that bridge to the child inside. It is this bridge which sustains the wonderment and mystery of the world around us.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

      Shakti

  2. This is such a beautifully written post, Shakti. I think the world would be a better place if we, as adults, had more of the childlike wonder, as we did as children. We all need to slow down and enjoy each day and every moment.

  3. Hi Shakti ! Now,that I went through your insightful posts,I absolutely understand why you wrote such a pithy comment on my ” Pondering the Four Seasons Sonnets ” . Many thanks for coming by and liking my post.All the very best,
    Doda

  4. Is this all there is? Loved this one too. Part of growing up, and when you said something to the extent of not focusing only on what you have achieved but the time you have left in the future and what to do with it I found it quite amusing for myself since I haven´t achieved much in the past so I might as well disregard it and just focus in the future. The time I have left which is anybody´s guess.

    I guess you get to a point that the child goes away, I like to think that my inner child is always going to be there and that sense of wonder, for me at least increases everyday, specially with this internet-blog-social media thing. The people I read and meet, and the knowledge I take away from them. It´s a constant learning process, I believe that should be a good philosophy. To always keep on learning no matter how old you are, just don´t get stuck. Even if you are late to the party like I am at age 31 to this new world. Plus helps me with my own writing, still in a very very fragile state. The writing I mean.

    Great posts sir. You made my only two neurons that I have left and which by the way are battling between each other think. Maybe they reproduce a little now.

    • Hi Charly,

      Loved your comment.

      Of course the way a situation occurs for each one of us is unique and different, based on our perceptual and functional constraints. But my post is really not about getting stuck in that aspect. It is more about how each one of us need to recognise an over-arching and larger aspect that would continue to energise us. A Cause like this, something bigger and therefore more permanent than our own selves, brings a meaning, a passion and great joy as we move forward.And this has nothing to do with our age and stage in life.

      I appreciate your presence and thoughts.

      Shakti

  5. Now your question on my recent post holds a much deeper pull! I’ve answered it as I saw fit — that children respected adults and that was just the way of it. But now you’ve made me think that perhaps it is in those very confines where the innocence and curiosity first starts to fade.

    I had a similar discussion of this the other day with Otto, who I see has commented above. I’ll be thinking of your post, and hoping to see where your musings take you. I firmly believe there is a child inside us all, just waiting to be heard. My best wishes on your quest to hear yours. And take great comfort in the fact you are trying to listen at all! 🙂

    • Dear Daisy,

      Delighted to see this comment and also to know that you are in touch with Otto with whom I too am engaged.

      What you bring up in your comment is a great insight. The very process of socialisation which children have to go through bring in biases and blinkers and these lead to their losing creative possibilities. So what could we do to press the “Refresh” button and once again open up aspects of our world view which we have lost as we grew older? Or for that matter loosen the perceptual controls within us?

      Thank you for taking the time to comment here, I appreciate.

      Shakti

  6. Shakti Beautiful thought provoking post I believe as we age, we do keep time as the most precious of gifts my theory NEVER GROW UP that way my inner child sees things anew and I am grounded and give gratitude for the smallest blessings.

    • Hi Otto,

      I suppose the Childhood curiosity falls victim to our increasing need to ‘show up’ in-authentically in our effort to conform to and please others.As we increasingly live our lives on others’ terms, we bound our self within rigid and pre-assigned boundaries leaving little scope for our own innate curiosities and possibilities.

      Thank you for your comment, I truly appreciate.

      Shakti

  7. What a great read for me first thing this morning.You give me much to think about today as I too am feeling these things as well. As I age I want to hold onto my childlike wonder and look forward to new moments rather than what I am leaving behind as a memory..It’s a difficult balancing act yet I try and onward I go with good thoughts..

    • Hi,

      Thank you for your wonderful acknowledgement and I remain delighted to have supported you to think about possibilities.

      I truly appreciate your taking the time to comment here.

      Shakti

  8. Shakti …

    In our childhood innocence, all is new and fresh. We have yet to be discouraged by setbacks – both personal and professional. Or, if we have at that age, we often bounce back full of optimism. I believe that changes when people’s lens see just the time left and they have yet to accomplish even a fraction of what they set out to do and be.

    Like you, I also wish to avoid Shakespeare’s soliloquy: the “brief candle” and “Life’s but a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.” We all want to believe that we’ve made a difference in our life. We all need to find that “cause” that you are in search of.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughtful insights.

    Judy

    • Hi Judy,

      Great comment. So what is that trigger that shifts us to, as you say, “…people’s lens see just the time left and they have yet to accomplish even a fraction of what they set out to do and be”? Is this some kind of a gradual realisation over time or due to the impact of a crucible event?

      Appreciate the time you have taken to comment here.

      Shakti

      • The trigger? Midlife crisis? Perhaps, it’s when we realize that there appears to be less time to reach all of our goals. I know I’m encouraged when I see that some writer began their career when they were much older. Then I smile and say … Well, there’s still time. 😉

        Have a great day, Shakti.

  9. First forgive my absence as I have not been doing my rounds as often..
    Second.. I loved this part of your post.. …..
    “I also sense another change in me. I now think much more of how much time and opportunity I have left rather than how far I have come and what I have achieved. If only I could recapture that ‘sense of wonder’ from my childhood for this remaining time and opportunity I have.”

    Would that we could all Live as children do.. no worry .. just live in the moment.. enthralled in the activity they are doing..

    We are changing my friend… we are noticing those changes ever more.. as we grow, and open our awareness to who we are…
    We within our modern day world are so caught up within work, we have no time left for play… So its only natural to want those Childhood moments of wonderment and to live in the moment of Now.. As we let go of commitments of responsibility … There is More to Life than Work… we have just lost the time to enjoy Living.. Thats why I too have been working hard.. but resting and learning to relax and play,, connecting back to my hobbies, painting, walking in nature..
    There is more to life… We just have to make time to enjoy it more.. 🙂

    Blessings Dear Shakti
    Sue 🙂

    • Dear Sue,

      What a pleasure seeing you back with a wonderful comment ( as always!)

      You speak of Change. Is the occurrence of this Change correlated to the stage of our individual life cycle or the stage of societal consciousness? I ask this question since your comment seems to allude to some overall change that is occurring around us. If this indeed be so, though there are aspects of it that remain counter-intuitive to me, what work do I need to do in such a situation to regain my ‘Childhood moments’ of wonderment? To me this seems to be a Cause which is larger than my own self……

      Thank you once again, I so appreciate your comment.

      Shakti

      • Dear Shakti, Thank you so much for your response, as always it’s good that you get my grey matter thinking! 🙂
        I can only speak from what I perceive 😉 Change is constant, we know that.. But my own feeling is that we are witnessing changes through to another ‘Age’.. We have come through many ‘Ages’ For example ~The Bronze Age, Iron Age, The period of Renaissance.. Industrial Age… Etc. We are now in this fast flowing world of the Technological Age with our communications devices, where get to hear about our world much faster, and react accordingly with our thoughts as we join in with our opinions. This in turn affects the Energy of Consciousness. It is the attitude of consciousness, the way of thought that determines our state of evolution. As we think, so we create.. And our world is appearing to be progressing ever faster as technology speeds up… One only has to look back through the last 100 yrs to see just how fast that has been compared by the last couple of thousand!.
        So as more and more of us appear to ‘Wake up’ to our way of living here on earth, understanding how life is changing.. We are all of us seeing how this Material world in which this technology has seemingly taken over from people.. We now are ‘Wired’ into the ‘Net’ everything you can think of from Shopping, barcodes, to Banking, Communications, Power, is not at finger tip speed… Life its self seems to appear to be speeding up. As we are racing ever faster in the fast lanes of life.. There is less time to just ‘Be’ and enjoy Free time.. We are seeing systems breaking down, governments, Food production, and pollution. We are endangering species, with many going extinct.. All through our Greed of destroying habitat to enhance the Speed of Profit, via Deforestation, Open cast mining, excavation of oil.. The list goes on…
        We see people who are ‘waking up’ who want to exit this race.. who can see the way the world is destroying itself through over production… Countries are going Bankrupt! Credit /Debt in computer generated figures that have to crumble sooner or later because its built upon falsehoods… Money is not going to bail us out no matter how much paper is printed.. If the structure of our world is top-heavy. Sooner or later it will topple over..
        So we seek those Childhood moments… When we felt safe, secure, no responsibility.. We seek Peace within, away from the hum-drum of this crazy mad world where we manufacture and consume items that we buy thinking they are going to enhance our lives and make us ‘Happy’…. Yet all we do is work harder to attain them, going around and around .. Until we want to get off the mad merry-go-round..
        Those who do and have are seeking a simpler life style… Growing their own food again, getting back in touch with themselves and nature.. Taking time out to connect with their ‘Inner Child’…. This is the point I feel you are at… Wishing deep within to escape the responsibilities and getting off the tread-mill …. As in my earlier statement we do that by doing the things we enjoy… Living in the Moment like Children do…. Making space to reconnect with our Inner Child again is important… And all part of the way many are feeling right now.. As we all of us connect via our conscious thoughts…
        A pleasure chatting to you again dear Shakti..
        Blessings Sue 🙂

      • Dear Sue,

        As always a great perspective. I can appreciate the world view and some of the specific frames of reference you hold. You speak of a Change into another age. It is always so difficult to discern the change when one is inside that as contrasted from taking an overall view as one looks back into the pages of history. But I suppose many of us do feel that change, though might remain unsure of how significant and society changing it may eventually turn out to be.

        Over the last two years, I too have revisited the aspect of Change being wrought by Technology in two of my earlier posts and I give the links here for reference and viewing:

        https://esgeemusings.com/2013/09/01/connectedness-my-takeaway-from-avatar/

        https://esgeemusings.com/2011/11/11/a-world-of-tweeple/

        But what I find interesting in your comment is the polarity of your thoughts. On one hand you have linked enhanced consciousness to Technology and the evolving change and the myriad benefits of awareness, involvement, cooperation etc that flow from that. On the other hand, you remain apprehensive ( and rightly so!) of the negative aspects in terms of loss of independence, increased complexity, environmental destruction and so on. But do you see how these two aspects are inextricably linked? Like two sides of the same coin?

        I suppose the question, ” Is this all there is?” is an articulation whose roots may be found in the above polarity. And the need for each one of us to hold onto a higher Cause is the doorway to a compromise.

        Blessings

        Shakti

      • Yes I do see these two aspects of being linked… It appears that the more we progress via technology we seem to be creating bigger holes in our World we have to mend.. Such as Ocean pollution, Air Pollution, Deforestation.. Even the Nuclear Power industry is reeking havoc with health and environment..
        Maybe Shakti, we are meant to progress to a pivotal point where I think you may have mentioned before in one of your posts.. And forgive me I have not yet visited the above two links..
        Whereby we come full circle .. Like the West was the power house of industry and now its the East. All things must balance out… And follow Natural laws not the ones we are used to making or following..

        I only know that we are within that time/frame now of seeing and being part of the changes taking place.. We see it in what is termed climate change.. And yet maybe our climate is only going through its own natural changes as we have once again come to a cycle within our solar system of planetary alignments… We are all only going with our ‘Feelings’ No one really has the answers.. So that is why really at the end of the day, we should just try and enjoy each moment…
        My own belief and experiences know we are eternal beings..I also feel we agreed to experience this time on Earth.. I know there is More than this.. But I also feel we have to make the most of this!.. our experience and if we can bring love and joy to the world.. As a child living in his moment.. Then we should try and connect back to that feeling…
        I get sad at the amount of anger and suffering/ conflict/wars ect.. But these have been ongoing through past history.. We cannot know joy without sorrow.. We live in a world of duality .. But I feel within my heart if there should be more to life on earth.. Then its time we understood we do things either through Fear or love.. and we should try to live through our hearts … When we do, this in my mind opens up the doorway into the higher dimensions many seek..
        Loved my little chat again dear Shakti,, and many blessings back… Sue 🙂

  10. Hi Shakti,

    You leave much to ponder here. Yes, many people lose that childhood wonder as they age and instead focus on how much time they have left to live. I don’t think that is the best way to be as it only focuses on the cup being half empty rather than half full, as the saying goes. I did lose that sense of wonder once and now it has returned with a sense of daily gratitude. I think that having purpose in one’s life really does help so much.

    Thanks for sharing your musings with us, my friend, and I look forward to reading more!

    Christy

    • Hi Christy,

      Great to see you back. I remain delighted to read about the validation of my post by your own life experience. So what path do each one of us need to follow to be able to find and embrace our life purpose?

      Thank you for a great and insightful comment, I appreciate.

      Shakti

  11. Hi Shakti! This post was so beautifully and honestly articulated. I have had so many of those thoughts and wonderings and you put words to them. In the past 3 years, although I was drawing a complete blank on my own Cause after leaving the world of opera, I have, in the most unexpected ways, had my next calling revealed to me and my passion for it has been a surprise :)!
    I so appreciated your words and the quotes you included. The “Man and Superman” quote just blew me away. Thank you!!!!!!!!

    • Hi Christine,

      Thank you for such a lovely acknowledgement, I truly appreciate. I am delighted to know that the post resonated with you and also the fact that you have found your higher cause which fills you with such great passion.

      Blessings

      Shakti

  12. Aloha Shakti. Your observations are so interesting. In my view, the first part of life is about exploring/experiencing ‘what’s out there.’ Then sometime around our thirties/forties, the journey takes a turn, with or without our express participation in it. We begin to focus INward, where the soul’s work begins, at least in this life. In my view, once again, it doesn’t mean we cease exploring; rather, we are more of a reflective mindset, perhaps so that our experience, once digested and contemplated, can be shared in service to future generations. Great post. Namaste!

    • Hi Bela,

      Indeed you have provided a great all encompassing perspective of what our life journey is all about. I suppose the greater cause we yearn for is inextricably connected to our finding more of our own being, who we are…….. for ourselves, and more importantly, for others.

      Thank you for your kind acknowledgement, I truly appreciate.

      Shakti Ghosal

  13. Hi Shakti,

    I still find a child’s wonder in the natural world. That has never left me. But this sense of purpose that you’re talking about was instilled in me from the time I was a child. My parents modeled community service and volunteerism, and many members of my family also work in professions that help others. So I continue that type of work in addition to my writing, and my husband’s company seeks at a very high level to make progressive organizations more efficient and effective.

    Best wishes on your search for a cause that speaks to you.

    Jilanne

  14. I enjoyed sort of eavesdropping on your introspection–I hope writing everything out helped you sort through your thoughts and that you find what you’re seeking.

    • Hi Kerry,

      You are most welcome and thank you for stopping by. All my musings are introspections one way or the other. While it may sometimes seem intensely personal, it is usually areas where I do see a road map shaping a way forward. In this post too, that remains true.

      Cheers

      Shakti

  15. Greetings my friend 🙂 I think what you speak to is in essence this journey we have all been on marching towards the shift in consciousness and our realization at long last that we are indeed far more than we have been kept from knowing for our lifetime to date. It is time to put aside our question of “is this all there is” and accept the truth we each hold inside if we dare look. There is far more to life and who we are and our powers we hold to create whatever we choose that have been kept from us. Since the beginning of time we have been suppressed and brainwashed into compliance by our tormentors. We have grown up seeing ourselves through such restricted eyes and we have believed what we’ve been told and what we saw.
    Once we awaken fully I truly believe the awe will return naturally and life will unfold before us in new ways that will excite our youthful awe. Our senses have been dimmed and our minds have been taught not to search for more. It is there Shakti and each day on this journey we are on new wonders appear if we are observant and our hearts and minds are open to all the possibilities. We are just beginning to grasp what is in store for us. WE must become our own passion once again and become the reason for our being because we truly feel and believe that in our hearts…The journey continues 🙂 My best to you from my heart….VK

    • Hi VK,

      As always it was great to see your comment today morning. I love the passion and steadfast belief which you always bring into any discussion.Like a searchlight focussing on hidden aspects…….

      Indeed , if only we could become more aware and confident about ‘out of box’ possibilities every time our life takes a new direction. If only we could take that leap of faith in our own intrinsic capabilities. If only we could shift out of our day to day attachments. Would this come from enhanced consciousness as you say? If so , what does not society really need to do to achieve this?

      I loved that phrase of yours when you say, “WE must become our own passion once again and become the reason for our being…….”

      Thank you for a thought-provoking comment VK, I apprecciate.

      Shakti

  16. Great thought but you need to answer “What may this Cause be for me I am left wondering”….That big idea of change is far ahead, I think but if you start, like a new venture/project take small steps, eventually the big idea will reveal by itself…

    • Hi Arjun,

      You are right. I need to discover that higher Cause that would leave me empowered.Interestingly enough, this very awareness of the need for a Cause leaves me energised and passionate.

      Thank you for the thought.

      Shakti

  17. Hi Shakti,

    I like the way you have weaved the innocent memories of childhood and the eagerness to explore all. I don’t remember such lovely moments that you have described…my most vivid memories are the unpleasant ones… seems you had a fantastic childhood but your disillusionment is quite surprising! There is so much to explore, so much to do that it never seems “is this all”!

    Yes, life does change its course as we move forward, it cant be as alluring and exciting as it is during those growing up years…but we have to find our own happiness, the world will not bother.

    I hope you will soon find that ’cause’ and ‘burn as brightly as you aspire to’! Wish you all the best!

    • Hi Balroop,

      I suppose I had as much of a sheltered and happy childhood as most children in middle class India. Interestingly for me, most of my memories are the happy and discovery oriented ones. I would believe this is the way the intrinsic positivity of a child’s mind works. I am curious therefore about the unpleasant memories you carry from your childhood.Could this be because the issues in question did not get satisfactorily completed?

      The disillusionment you seem to have sensed in my post is really more about a loss of the child-like wonderment and the boredom of having ‘Being there, done that’ mindset.To me it is not really about being disillusioned with life but more a hankering for a childlike state where carefreeness and joy are the norm. I believe the way to regain this state is by discovering a ‘Cause that energises and empowers’.

      Thank you for a very insightful comment Balroop, I truly appreciate your time and presence here.

      Shakti

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