For a long time, I had a personal theme song. It resonated with me because it spoke to me of my quest to figure out who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be with, and so on.
It was much less about the big, overarching picture of life, the Universe, and everything — and much more focused on my present, immediate needs.
The song? U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. This was my mantra for probably a good 2 decades.
The right job? Couldn’t find it. The right home? Wasn’t feeling it. The right path in life? No clue. The right relationship? Ask anyone who knew me in my 20s and 30s, and they will tell you all about the insanity that was my lack of commitment and frequent missteps in dating.
No matter what I did, nothing satisfied me. The grass was always greener — even though I had no clue what was on the other side of the wall. I just knew I had not found — and subsequently could not find — what I was looking for.
What was lacking? For me, it was rooted in the fear of missing out, fear of failure, fear of success, and ultimately getting abandoned for being an awful example of a human being. I felt frequently unsettled, disconnected, and unsatisfied.
Breaking the cycle has been an ongoing challenge. But I have a far better idea now, and I believe I am finding what I’m looking for more often than not. What’s more, I think I have figured out that it’s what most people are also looking for.
What we are looking for is connection
Right from the start, keep in mind that how I see connection is not likely how you see it. But when all is said and done, in my experience, connection is what we tend to be looking for in our lives.
What does that mean? It means we want to feel connected to the things, people, and experiences we have in life.
Frequently, this gets overwhelmed by grand ideas of big things. There is a lie permeating society about what success and achievement look like. Big, expensive home, awesome amazing car, beautiful things, monstrous celebrations and parties, and various other materialistic matters are presented to us as the answers.
That’s what I wanted for years. I wanted to prove my worth by having the best of the best where I could. Which was super awesome — until I couldn’t keep up with the debt I incurred trying to do that.
When I stopped pursuing this big, material idea and started working to make better connections in my life — it changed for the better. It helped me to grow calmer, more thoughtful, more considered in action. I started to find satisfaction and contentment more frequently than not.
This is not, nor has it been, an all the time experience. I suffer from depression. So, that means I have bad days where I feel like crap, can barely motivate myself to write, and feel disconnected.
But when it passes — and it always does — I begin to rework and rebuild my connections. And as I build more and more connections, more and more I find what I am looking for.
How does connection work?
One of the great ironies of the information age is how easily we can be connected to one another. Tablets, computers, smartphones, the internet, wifi, cellular 4G and 5G all come together to allow me to share this with you across the world. I could use a program to hold a video chat with you instantly — even if you are on the other side of the world.
Why is this ironic? Because rather than connect us this tends to disconnect us. We get caught up in the rabbit hole that is social media, texting rather than talking, using messenger services and email where you convey no emotion or feeling. Hence, you make a very limited connection and tend to disconnect.
Connection — whether to a person, place, thing, or experience — is made up of the elements of mindfulness. It is thought and feeling, to begin with. Then, action and intention come into play to bridge the connection.
For example — let’s say you find someone attractive. That’s the thought. Thinking about getting together with them excites and entices you. That’s the feeling. You start a conversation. That’s the action. As you talk you learn about who they are and what makes them tick and realize you want to date them — or not. That’s the intention.
That’s a very basic aspect of creating that connection. But it also only looks to the surface matters of mindfulness. Mindfulness below the surface is about mindset/headspace/psyche.
Ultimately, in making the tangible connection you desire to make the intangible, too.
Connecting on the deeper levels
Ultimately, the connections you make are not just on the surface. They bore into your mindset/headspace/psyche and become as internal as they are external.
Why? Because the internal is who you are.
These meat popsicles we run around in are not who we are. They are the vessels that contain us. Who we are is the notion of ourselves we consider consciously, subconscious, and unconsciously all the time. The information you take in through your senses is being coordinated and gathered by this.
When you get into a relationship — be it friendship, love affair, business partner, fuck buddy, whatever — you are making a connection. The connection is the recognition of your inner self with their inner self.
This is why we bond with pets. Because when your dog wags their tail upon seeing you or your cat purrs as you pet them you experience connection with them.
This applies to not just people and pets, but things and experiences, too. I love my car, for example. There is something super comforting about getting in, starting the engine, and driving. It feels complete. I feel a similar connection to my home office, my iPhone, and the path around my apartment complex I walk daily.
Experiences also form connections. Whenever I get to practice fencing, I feel my calmest, most connected, most present. Every time I visit and hike around Sedona, Arizona, it feels like belonging.
Connecting on the deeper levels — which are your true self — is what you are looking for. It is a part of the overall isness of human nature. We are social creatures — but that doesn’t mean connections are with other people or even tangibles.
Since we, ultimately, are intangible — so, too, are many of the connections we seek in life.
Connection versus attachment
Buddhism and the Jedi have things to say about attachment. Why? Because attachment is limiting, and change is inevitable.
I have a favorite coffee mug. Every morning I start my day with my coffee. This is the mug I love to use.
But I know that, someday, this mug could get broken. Or lost. Or otherwise, cease to be a usable vessel for my coffee. Hence, every couple of weeks, I switch to another mug.
Attachment goes beyond connection and can border on obsession. It can cause you to hold onto people so tightly that you disallow their growth. Attachment means you may take a thing for yourself and keep it from the world and its purpose.
Tangible and intangible, sentient and unaware, everything in the Universe has a purpose. That may seem trite, but that makes it no less true. Attachment can prevent what you attach to from finding and serving its purpose.
Attachment gets mistaken for connection because to attach you must first connect. However, when that connection becomes possessive of the thing you connect to — you endanger the connection by holding back what you are connected to.
You see this all the time in relationships that go bad due to jealousy or accusations of impropriety of one type or another. People who attach to an idea whose time has passed — or was not the truth, to begin with — are unable to let it go.
Attachment prevents you from growing. And because change is the only constant in the Universe, attachment makes working with and accepting change far more challenging than it needs to be.
If you become overly possessive of a connection you make, or jealous, or fearful of losing it — that is attachment.
What you seek changes, too
Finally, the thing you are looking for to make a connection with can and will change. It’s inevitable because the Universe is always changing.
This is also because as you grow, evolve, and have more life experiences — what you desire changes. Hell, what I wanted when I was in my 20s is different from what I sought in my 30s — which differs from what I seek now in my 40s.
Connections are fluid. They shift, change, grow, shrink, evolve, and even fade away. Now, rather than think of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For as my theme song/mantra — when I hear it, it no longer resonates with me.
In fact, the connection I once felt for this song is gone. To the point where I tend to skip it when I come across it.
Yes, this makes finding and making connections somewhat more challenging. But it also keeps it exciting. Life is so full of potential and possibility. The more I experience, the more I learn, the more I want to have new experiences and learn more.
Connection is a fluid idea. You are capable of making connections — material and/or immaterial — all the time.
I am amazed that it’s taken me so long to see this for what it is. But now that I have, I am excited to see what more I can make of it — and what connections I get to make going forward.
What connections do you believe you are looking to make?
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.