My Personal Crisis — By Lydian Shipp
Guanajuato Mexico North America

My Personal Crisis — By Lydian Shipp

What am I doing?

I ask myself this question probably at least 10 times every day with a degree of desperation so high that I have to force myself to dismiss the question or risk insanity. Sometimes, the sum of my dismissals comes out in an emotional breakdown of circular thoughts that lead nowhere. I start in one place, and end up right back where I started. And that place that I circle back around to is usually the question, unfortunately. What am I doing?

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. My mom has always been right about the existential emotions/conflicts that I’d experience at different stages in my life. She told me that I’d feel disoriented and confused about what I was doing around this time of life… or at least that most (if not all) people do. When I was 6 years old, I remember my mom and I talking late at night in my bedroom about some of our teenage volunteers out at our Halloween festival. My mom explained to me that a lot of teenagers have a “sense of self-entitlement,” and although it can be annoying, they usually outgrow it and become decent individuals. I said to her that I would never be that kind of teenager with a sense of self-entitlement! I’d just go ahead and skip that part and become a decent individual right out of the gate. Well… let’s just say that yes, I did end up with a sense of self-entitlement during my teenage years. Given, knowing that I had this issue made it much easier to manage (I think I did okay at managing my sense of self-entitlement), but… I still faced this existential problem.

In retrospect, the sense of self-entitlement does have a place. It has to do with being focused on understanding oneself as a more independent individual from one’s parents, which can be an ugly and uncomfortable transition. Sometimes you have to focus more on yourself than others to understand what’s going on in your brain. And, although this is acceptable to an extent, at some point you’ve gotta listen to other people too. After all, you learn from other people. Things about yourself sometimes. Sometimes not. You never know what you’ll learn from other people. But anyway, back to my point…

Now, nearing my 20s, I’m having a crisis about what the hell I’m doing. And no, I don’t mean life purpose. I mean… maybe I do (sometimes). The “what am I doing” question has to do with what I’m doing right now and how it plays into the rest of my future life’s events. Am I doing the “right” thing? I suppose maybe the crisis comes from having retrospect on the rest of my life and seeing how different events have led to different other events. And I’m curious about how the current events will lead to future events. But, there’s no real way to know what the future events will be, or how current events will lead to them. And it seems important. And thus, I feel desperate for answers.

Travel crises are inevitable, and I’ve learned to work with them over the years. I think that travel has definitely helped me keep a positive perspective on my Daily Life Crises, and for that I’m very grateful.

Over the past month or two, this feeling has grown from the fetus of an idea to a teenage monster of an idea (I say teenage because I’m sure it has some growing up to do and it’ll only get worse for a while). At first, my reaction to this somewhat new feeling was to turn to my divination/spiritual tools like hypnosis, meditation, and pendulums. I felt angry. Wronged. I asked for dreams and reached out to the cosmos and I didn’t get anything to cling to for hope. For pretty much my entire life, when I’ve asked for dreams when I’ve felt hopeless or confused, I’ve gotten something. Sometimes it’s a small something, and maybe not even a dream, but there’s always been something. I did start having dreams again eventually (a few weeks ago), but only after I let go.

What I resolved last night as I was laying in bed after a long night out (a completely different story), I contemplated how, during the times when I feel desperate and hopeless about what I’m doing, I could either turn to the cosmos and go into myself for the answers or… well, go do what I’m doing instead of asking what I’m doing.

When I’m doing what I’m doing, whatever it is, I don’t usually think about how I don’t know what the point is of the activity for Future Me. Something almost always happens, and although it’s not always supremely positive and/or exciting, it’s always interesting. This wasn’t as much the case in the United States. Going out was pretty anticlimactic there. But here in Guanajuato, and in most other places in the world, from my experience, it is true (just to add another reason to the long list of reasons why I’m glad to live in Mexico and in this particular city).

There’s a part of me that wants to know what’s next, and there’s a part that doesn’t. It’s difficult to even put these thoughts about what’s happening around me on Earth and how the cosmos plays into my life down into writing because they’re so ethereal and formless. Not to say they and the cosmos aren’t important, of course. They are. But that’s exactly the point. The thoughts and “Heaven” (or whatever you want to call it) are things that, right now, exist exclusively in my mind. I’m alive, possess a physical body, and I have things to do. I know I don’t want to spend my life inside meditating all the time trying to connect with the divine consciousness (there’s nothing wrong with that… some people, like monks, do want to do that, but I don’t want to in this life).

There are magical things and “guideposts” all around me, all the time. Sometimes they’re less significant or noticeable than at other times, but they’re there. If I go do what I’m doing with passion, hope, and faith, that is.

Nonetheless, I’m grateful for my model of the universe, since this model is what’s helped me to realize that I maybe need to leave the blatantly divine alone for a little while I go explore where I am right now. I still believe strongly in the power of dreams and all the various forms that guidance comes in, but I’m not going to go chasing the guidance down right now. It will be there for me when I need it. Otherwise, if it’s not there, I have to assume that I’ll know what to do when the time comes.

The last time I meditated was with my mom when we were trying an experiment of sorts. We lit some incense, set up some mats on the floor in one of our basement rooms, and turned off all the lights so it was as dark as possible. And then we sat there for 15 minutes (try it sometime, it was actually kinda interesting). The first time was uneventful for me, but the second time ended up being profound. I saw a sunflower (in my imagination), and then I remembered this one day when I was about 6 or 7 when I went out with my grandparents to a sunflower field. I hadn’t thought about that memory for a long time and… honestly, I don’t know if I would’ve even remembered it otherwise. But what it made me think about is how amazing my life has been. How I started out as a little girl hanging out in sunflower fields and pastures in western Nebraska, and how now I’m here in Mexico doing… well, everything I’m doing. I said to my parents the other night that I would have never guessed that when I was 18 I’d be playing in a traditional musical group in Mexico, walking the back alleys of a colonial city dancing and singing with a group of men. I never could’ve dreamed up what I’m doing right now, but I’m so happy with it. I come home every night after going on a callejoneada just thrilled that I get to live in this incredible city and do this incredible thing.

So, I don’t know what I’m doing right now. That’s true. No one does at this age though, and there’s some comfort in the thought that I’m not alone in my plight. But, one thing I do know is that I’m having a hell of a lot of fun with what I’m doing, and I wouldn’t choose to do anything else. I’ll look back on this time in my life someday and it’ll probably make sense to me, but I’m not Future Me yet. I’m Present Me, and I want to go do the things I want to do. Even without explicit guidance from the universe, I have to have faith that I’ll know what to do when the time comes.

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