Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. QOTD: Lost in the Woods

 

But who is that, wandering alone?

He loses his way in the brush,

behind him the branches

close back together.

The grass springs back into place,

emptiness swallows him.

Ah, who can heal the pain? . . . secretly he wastes

his own virtue

in useless self-searching.

In there in your Psalter,

Father of Love, one melody

that can reach his ear,

and revive his heart.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Harzreise im Winter, 1777

*****

Do you recognize me?

The symptoms were there long before I recognized them. Not long after I was married, I realized how desolate I felt. My sorrow didn’t emerge from the marriage, but the sense of drifting along in my life. Why did I feel so lost? How could I feel connected to my own life? What was missing?

For years I tried new activities, but nothing spoke to me. I complained. I was lonely with a husband who was attending school full time and working full time. We barely saw each other. I wanted to blame him for my loneliness, but those feelings were dwelling inside, not caused by anything outside.

For several years, twenty in fact, Zen rescued me. Ironically, this religion with no deity, brought me closer to G-d. The seeds were planted to discover a life of meaning.

Now I can say, the pain is healed.

Have you had periods in your life when you felt lost? How did you find your way to peace and freedom?

There are 29 comments.

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  1. Rodin Member

    Susan Quinn:

    secretly he wastes

    his own virtue

    in useless self-searching.

    This is another formulation of “the grass is always greener”. We humans can create impossible standards for contentment. To a young person (at least to me at a young age) contentment seems too low a bar. But for many (most?) contentment is elusive. How one learns to apply cost/benefit to going after the “grass on the other side of the fence” is an individualistic thing. Experience teaches us that realization of perceived benefits is uncertain. Getting to the point where you “stay in the current pasture” and focus on the benefits and joys yet to be consumed there is the key.

    So how do you do it? There is no one path, but one technique is to simply ask: “Is there anyone who would prefer to live the life I am living over the one they are living?” And, “How many people need to prefer my life over their own before I recognize the value of that which I currently possess?” 

    • #1
    • January 27, 2019, at 9:38 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Rodin (View Comment):
    Getting to the point where you “stay in the current pasture” and focus on the benefits and joys yet to be consumed there is the key.

    So many excellent points, @rodin! Personally I might not look at others’ lives, because it can be problem for me and perhaps for others. I don’t know if anyone would want my life or even prefer it over their own, and there is no one whose life I could possibly want, no matter what lovely things are happening for them. Those contemplations can distract us from looking at our own lives. It’s like a couple who thinks that someone else has a better marriage, and the next thing they know, the couple splits up. Better to think about our own lives, I think, where we have more choices and the opportunity to appreciate our own growth.

    • #2
    • January 27, 2019, at 10:03 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Susan Quinn: How could I feel connected to my own life?

    I do not feel connected to my life. I am glad that you feel connected to yours. 

    • #3
    • January 27, 2019, at 3:35 PM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    TBA (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: How could I feel connected to my own life?

    I do not feel connected to my life. I am glad that you feel connected to yours.

    I’m sorry to hear that, @TBA. It can be a long painful process. I didn’t feel grounded in mine until maybe 10 years ago. You still have time. These things don’t happen on a schedule .

    • #4
    • January 27, 2019, at 3:40 PM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Mike Rapkoch Moderator

    There is another way. From T.S. Eliot’s East Coker:

     Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
    The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
    Of dead and living. Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after,
    But a lifetime burning in every moment
    And not the lifetime of one man only
    But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
    There is a time for the evening under starlight,
    A time for the evening under lamplight
    (The evening with the photograph album).
    Love is most nearly itself
    When here and now cease to matter. Old men ought to be explorers
    Here and there does not matter
    We must be still and still moving
    Into another intensity
    For a further union, a deeper communion
    Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
    The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
    Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
    • #5
    • January 27, 2019, at 3:50 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    There is another way. From T.S. Eliot’s East Coker:

     Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
    The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
    Of dead and living. Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after,
    But a lifetime burning in every moment
    And not the lifetime of one man only
    But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
    There is a time for the evening under starlight,
    A time for the evening under lamplight
    (The evening with the photograph album).
    Love is most nearly itself
    When here and now cease to matter. Old men ought to be explorers
    Here and there does not matter
    We must be still and still moving
    Into another intensity
    For a further union, a deeper communion
    Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
    The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
    Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

    @mikerapkoch. Just beautiful. Yes, the journey will look different for everyone, with different paths, experiences. I especially love the lines marked, and the very last. We must leave things behind to begin again. Thank you so much.

    • #6
    • January 27, 2019, at 4:03 PM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Richard Fulmer Inactive

    I find that I feel better about myself when I’m thinking of, and helping, others.

    • #7
    • January 27, 2019, at 7:33 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    I find that I feel better about myself when I’m thinking of, and helping, others.

    Indeed. That is an essential part of the journey. Thanks, @Richardfulmer.

    • #8
    • January 28, 2019, at 3:58 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Vectorman Member

    Join other Ricochet members by submitting a Quote of the Day post, the easiest way to start a fun conversation. We have many open dates on the February Schedule. We’ve even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #9
    • January 28, 2019, at 7:28 AM PST
    • 1 like
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    I find that I feel better about myself when I’m thinking of, and helping, others.

    Indeed. That is an essential part of the journey. Thanks, @Richardfulmer. 

    It is one of the most effective anti-depressants available to man. 

    Pills are easier. 

    • #10
    • January 28, 2019, at 12:42 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    TBA (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    I find that I feel better about myself when I’m thinking of, and helping, others.

    Indeed. That is an essential part of the journey. Thanks, @Richardfulmer.

    It is one of the most effective anti-depressants available to man.

    Pills are easier.

    But they’re not as rewarding!

    • #11
    • January 28, 2019, at 12:44 PM PST
    • 1 like
  12. garyinabq Member

    In there in your Psalter,

    Father of Love, one melody

    that can reach his ear,

    and revive his heart.

     

    Interesting that Goethe, the author of FAUST, would write this. Faust rejected biblical teaching and even tried to rewrite the book of John to a more secular meaning. He changed “In the beginning was the Word” to “In the beginning was the Sense, the Force, and then the Deed,” all human instead of spiritual meanings. But then, at the end when it appeared Mephistopheles had won the bet and would get Faust’s soul, Goethe somehow managed to get Faust’s soul into heaven after all. Goethe must have been hopeful, as is shown in this passage.

    • #12
    • January 29, 2019, at 7:56 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    garyinabq (View Comment):

    In there in your Psalter,

    Father of Love, one melody

    that can reach his ear,

    and revive his heart.

     

    Interesting that Goethe, the author of FAUST, would write this. Faust rejected biblical teaching and even tried to rewrite the book of John to a more secular meaning. He changed “In the beginning was the Word” to “In the beginning was the Sense, the Force, and then the Deed,” all human instead of spiritual meanings. But then, at the end when it appeared Mephistopheles had won the bet and would get Faust’s soul, Goethe somehow managed to get Faust’s soul into heaven after all. Goethe must have been hopeful, as is shown in this passage.

    Thanks, @garyinabq! I did a little checking and you are correct: Goethe considered himself a non-Christian, although he seemed to have leanings toward an impersonal G-d. He also studied Islam extensively. I don’t know what his beliefs were in the end, but he certainly spoke to me.

    • #13
    • January 29, 2019, at 8:09 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Old Bathos Moderator

    I tried to sustain myself on sarcasm and alcohol for quite a while. Oddly enough it was not an effective formula. 

    My relationship with God is somewhat arm’s length at times but since I no longer confuse us with one another, most things have noticeably improved.

    • #14
    • January 29, 2019, at 8:23 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I tried to sustain myself on sarcasm and alcohol for quite a while. Oddly enough it was not an effective formula.

    My relationship with God is somewhat arm’s length at times but since I no longer confuse us with one another, most things have noticeably improved.

    Thanks for making me smile, @oldbathos. Arm’s length over time gives you the opportunity to be closer. But it’s definitely better than the alternatives!

    • #15
    • January 29, 2019, at 9:04 AM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Inactive

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Susan Quinn: How could I feel connected to my own life?

    Without Israel, I would have no connection to my own life. I would have no life.

    Can you imagine what it’s like walking into a supermarket and being in love with every person you see? And be willing to do anything for anyone, according to whatever need might arise, up to dying for them if necessary?

    There is so much going on here that is beyond words. You have to live here for a few years, learn the language, make a few friends, I think, to understand.

    For me, in order to be connected to my own life I need to be connected to the lives of those who surround me. That, actually, is Judaism in a nutshell. The most solemn daily prayer, recited silently three times a day, consists of 18 prayers spoken on behalf of the entire nation. We ask that G-d should bless us, grant us prosperity, and grant us peace. Your individual happiness depends on the happiness and completeness of everyone else.

    When G-d brings about the return to Zion, we (will see that we) were as dreamers. Then our mouths will be filled with laughter, and our tongues with joyous song.” (Psalm 126:1-2)

    Once you are living here, you will remember life where you came from as an unreal dream, one of those dreams where you are floating in the sky, detached from everything, in limbo, even having fun perhaps, but alone all the same.

    • #16
    • January 29, 2019, at 10:33 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Susan Quinn: How could I feel connected to my own life?

    Without Israel, I would have no connection to my own life. I would have no life.

    Can you imagine what it’s like walking into a supermarket and being in love with every person you see? And be willing to do anything for anyone, according to whatever need might arise, up to dying for them if necessary?

    There is so much going on here that is beyond words. You have to live here for a few years, learn the language, make a few friends, I think, to understand.

    For me, in order to be connected to my own life I need to be connected to the lives of those who surround me. That, actually, is Judaism in a nutshell. The most solemn daily prayer, recited silently three times a day, consists of 18 prayers spoken on behalf of the entire nation. We ask that G-d should bless us, grant us prosperity, and grant us peace. Your individual happiness depends on the happiness and completeness of everyone else.

    When G-d brings about the return to Zion, we (will see that we) were as dreamers. Then our mouths will be filled with laughter, and our tongues with joyous song.” (Psalm 126:1-2)

    Once you are living here, you will remember life where you came from as an unreal dream, one of those dreams where you are floating in the sky, detached from everything, in limbo, even having fun perhaps, but alone all the same.

    What a beautiful testimony to aliyah, Yehoshua. May I ask how long ago you took the big step?

    • #17
    • January 29, 2019, at 12:46 PM PST
    • 1 like
  18. Manny Member

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    There is another way. From T.S. Eliot’s East Coker:

     Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
    The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
    Of dead and living. Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after,
    But a lifetime burning in every moment
    And not the lifetime of one man only
    But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
    There is a time for the evening under starlight,
    A time for the evening under lamplight
    (The evening with the photograph album).
    Love is most nearly itself
    When here and now cease to matter. Old men ought to be explorers
    Here and there does not matter
    We must be still and still moving
    Into another intensity
    For a further union, a deeper communion
    Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
    The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
    Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

    Possibly the greatest poem of the 20th century in English. The Four Quartets taken as a whole are magnificent.

    • #18
    • January 29, 2019, at 6:39 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Manny Member

    Susan Quinn: Have you had periods in your life when you felt lost? How did you find your way to peace and freedom?

    I’ve probably had several. I’m not exactly sure how I righted myself after each. Literature, work, exercise? All had their role to play I guess. Maybe just time made the disorientation overcome by events. Except the very last time, The last, my father passing away, over twelve years ago really had me discombobulated. It was what I can only describe as a “religious” experience that set a whole new course in my life. Something like Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy. The journey toward God was set in motion and reshaped me. That’s the best I can describe. I’m not sure I understand it fully.

    • #19
    • January 29, 2019, at 7:03 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Manny (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Have you had periods in your life when you felt lost? How did you find your way to peace and freedom?

    I’ve probably had several. I’m not exactly sure how I righted myself after each. Literature, work, exercise? All had their role to play I guess. Maybe just time made the disorientation overcome by events. Except the very last time, The last, my father passing away, over twelve years ago really had me discombobulated. It was what I can only describe as a “religious” experience that set a whole new course in my life. Something like Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy. The journey toward God was set in motion and reshaped me. That’s the best I can describe. I’m not sure I understand it fully.

    Thanks for weighing in, @manny. I love your description, and it shows that the journey is rarely a straight line; instead, it has potholes, diversions, breakdowns and all kinds of difficulties. I admire your faith and determination to continue to navigate your life’s path. That’s what’s most important, especially connecting with G-d.

    • #20
    • January 30, 2019, at 6:23 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Manny (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Have you had periods in your life when you felt lost? How did you find your way to peace and freedom?

    I’ve probably had several. I’m not exactly sure how I righted myself after each. Literature, work, exercise? All had their role to play I guess. Maybe just time made the disorientation overcome by events. Except the very last time, The last, my father passing away, over twelve years ago really had me discombobulated. It was what I can only describe as a “religious” experience that set a whole new course in my life. Something like Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy. The journey toward God was set in motion and reshaped me. That’s the best I can describe. I’m not sure I understand it fully.

    Speaking as an outsider here, but if you could fully encompass a journey towards God wouldn’t that suggest that you didn’t get a lot of miles in? 

    • #21
    • January 30, 2019, at 9:16 AM PST
    • Like
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    TBA (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Have you had periods in your life when you felt lost? How did you find your way to peace and freedom?

    I’ve probably had several. I’m not exactly sure how I righted myself after each. Literature, work, exercise? All had their role to play I guess. Maybe just time made the disorientation overcome by events. Except the very last time, The last, my father passing away, over twelve years ago really had me discombobulated. It was what I can only describe as a “religious” experience that set a whole new course in my life. Something like Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy. The journey toward God was set in motion and reshaped me. That’s the best I can describe. I’m not sure I understand it fully.

    Speaking as an outsider here, but if you could fully encompass a journey towards God wouldn’t that suggest that you didn’t get a lot of miles in?

    @robtgilsdorf, I don’t understand the question. Could you ask it a different way?

    • #22
    • January 30, 2019, at 9:42 AM PST
    • 1 like
  23. Manny Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Have you had periods in your life when you felt lost? How did you find your way to peace and freedom?

    I’ve probably had several. I’m not exactly sure how I righted myself after each. Literature, work, exercise? All had their role to play I guess. Maybe just time made the disorientation overcome by events. Except the very last time, The last, my father passing away, over twelve years ago really had me discombobulated. It was what I can only describe as a “religious” experience that set a whole new course in my life. Something like Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy. The journey toward God was set in motion and reshaped me. That’s the best I can describe. I’m not sure I understand it fully.

    Thanks for weighing in, @manny. I love your description, and it shows that the journey is rarely a straight line; instead, it has potholes, diversions, breakdowns and all kinds of difficulties. I admire your faith and determination to continue to navigate your life’s path. That’s what’s most important, especially connecting with G-d.

    Now that I think of it, Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy was lost in a wood too.

    • #23
    • January 30, 2019, at 9:52 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Manny (View Comment):
    Now that I think of it, Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy was lost in a wood too.

    That’s true!

    • #24
    • January 30, 2019, at 10:09 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Have you had periods in your life when you felt lost? How did you find your way to peace and freedom?

    I’ve probably had several. I’m not exactly sure how I righted myself after each. Literature, work, exercise? All had their role to play I guess. Maybe just time made the disorientation overcome by events. Except the very last time, The last, my father passing away, over twelve years ago really had me discombobulated. It was what I can only describe as a “religious” experience that set a whole new course in my life. Something like Dante at the beginning of the Divine Comedy. The journey toward God was set in motion and reshaped me. That’s the best I can describe. I’m not sure I understand it fully.

    Speaking as an outsider here, but if you could fully encompass a journey towards God wouldn’t that suggest that you didn’t get a lot of miles in?

    @robtgilsdorf, I don’t understand the question. Could you ask it a different way?

    That if everything you know about God is straightforward and explainable, God would have to be fairly uncomplicated which is unlikely in an omniscient, omnipresent, eternal being. 

    • #25
    • January 30, 2019, at 10:14 AM PST
    • Like
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    TBA (View Comment):
    That if everything you know about God is straightforward and explainable, God would have to be fairly uncomplicated which is unlikely in an omniscient, omnipresent, eternal being. 

    Where did you get that impression? There is little that is straightforward and explainable about G-d Himself. We study Torah to understand what He expects from us, but He is all you say.

    • #26
    • January 30, 2019, at 11:06 AM PST
    • 1 like
  27. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):
    That if everything you know about God is straightforward and explainable, God would have to be fairly uncomplicated which is unlikely in an omniscient, omnipresent, eternal being.

    Where did you get that impression? There is little that is straightforward and explainable about G-d Himself. We study Torah to understand what He expects from us, but He is all you say.

    Right, so I’m saying that 

    The journey toward God was set in motion and reshaped me. That’s the best I can describe. I’m not sure I understand it fully.

    describes a fairly successful journey while someone who claimed full understanding would probably describe a somewhat abbreviated journey. 

    • #27
    • January 30, 2019, at 2:44 PM PST
    • 1 like
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    TBA (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):
    That if everything you know about God is straightforward and explainable, God would have to be fairly uncomplicated which is unlikely in an omniscient, omnipresent, eternal being.

    Where did you get that impression? There is little that is straightforward and explainable about G-d Himself. We study Torah to understand what He expects from us, but He is all you say.

    Right, so I’m saying that

    The journey toward God was set in motion and reshaped me. That’s the best I can describe. I’m not sure I understand it fully.

    describes a fairly successful journey while someone who claimed full understanding would probably describe a somewhat abbreviated journey.

    I think I understand. Saying that we don’t know shows a certain wisdom. 

    • #28
    • January 30, 2019, at 3:07 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Yes. And “I’ve got this God guy all figured out” has a teeny whiff of hubris to it. 

    • #29
    • January 30, 2019, at 3:09 PM PST
    • 2 likes

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