Welcome to my newly updated blog, Life Below the Surface...

...I'm glad you're here! My goal for this space is to provide thoughts, suggestions and camaraderie as we strive to live lives that are full of meaning and purpose. Whether we realize it or not, the desire for meaning - for our lives to mean something to others and to the world - runs strong and deep.  We long to feel significant, like we belong. We also yearn for connection - to ourselves, to other people and to a deeper sense of purpose. When meaning and purpose are lacking, life becomes unbearably mundane, pointless and dull. We end up feeling as if we're on a carousel that is endlessly spinning with no sense of direction or destination. We grasp at things we believe will satisfy our desires...careers, family, friends, travel, fashion, etc...but I believe we need to look deeper. We may resist this truth, but below the surface, our souls are hungry for something more, something beyond the many worthwhile pursuits that never seem to satisfy.

Not surprisingly, it turns out that living "below the surface" - with authenticity, vulnerability and intentionality - is much easier said than done. I think that most of us, deep down, desire to be people of depth - people who are in touch with themselves, with others and with the world around them. We all desire to use the phrase "a life well-lived" to describe the short time we spend here on earth, and yet so many of us struggle to translate these hopes and desires into practical, day-to-day realities. The contradiction between our goals and the actual reality of our lives shows up everywhere we look: we crave close relationships but content ourselves with cheap forms of intimacy; we hunger for meaning and end up distracting ourselves through each day; we desire balance and yet continue to take our cues from society instead of from our own unique needs and personalities; and the list could go on. Throw in the curve balls that life so often throws our way, and living a life of depth and substance begins to seem impossible - simply surviving seems a much more realistic goal.

I have come to strongly believe that, no matter our circumstances or challenges, it is possible to live lives of meaning and purpose. The journey toward this goal may not feel natural or straightforward, which is one of the reasons why it is so easy to find ourselves drifting meaninglessly through our lives. In Aptos and the surrounding Santa Cruz community, we tend to be so busy and distracted that without even realizing it, we often choose the "path of least resistance" - the path that keeps us on the surface, the path that temporarily relieves our discomfort, the path that gets us through the day, the path that ensures our survival. It is generally much more difficult to choose the alternative path - the path that digs deep, the path that allows our discomfort to teach us, the path that takes risks, the path that does not have a clear destination, the path that sometimes seems to threaten our survival. 

To me, this picture captures the tension that awaits anyone who desires to explore this alternative path. Imagine the beauty and the wonder of floating above the still ocean water, getting a perfect view of the night sky full of stars, with the moon's reflection glistening on the water. However, many fearful questions arise when I imagine myself in the hot air balloon: "Where is the land?? Will I have enough fuel to get there? What if I land in the water? I can't see the way forward!"  I could put an end to my fear by staying safely on land. But then I would miss out on the experience of the journey. By choosing the known and avoiding the risk, I would forego a soul-expanding adventure that beckons me forward.  There is beauty and danger involved in this hot air balloon journey, just as there is in beginning to venture down the path toward a life well-lived. 

So are we willing to take the risk? Would we rather continue to play it safe and stick to the surface-level, survival-based living that gets us through each day, or do we sense an invitation to something deeper, something much more meaningful and worthwhile than just surviving? In the coming weeks I will be exploring specific aspects of and obstacles to a life well-lived. Maybe you have doubts about whether this journey would be worthwhile, or maybe you feel drawn toward something deeper, something that is hard to pinpoint or put into words. Whatever your reaction, I invite you to join me in exploring where this path might lead.