The writings of the ancient sages can be very illuminating, but sometimes the most profound truths arise from everyday conversations. The other morning, I attended a breakfast-time social event here in Los Angeles, organized by hostess extraordinaire (and Vedic meditator) Audrey Bernstein as a kind of "cross-pollination" event, a way for people to meet and talk in the broad light of day instead of smokey, dark nights. One of the attendees, a striking English film director, was asked, "Where do you live?" "Well, it seems like I live here in L.A. now," she replied. "I never officially moved here, but apparently I've ended up here." She paused for a moment and then added, with equanimity, "I suppose you bloom where you're planted."
"Eureka!" I thought. That is it. The wisdom of the ages captured in the kind of common-sense lingo our grandmother would have used. You bloom where you're planted. We spend so much energy today distracted by thoughts of how much better life might be if we lived somewhere else; how we might hit on enduring, all-solving happiness if we just changed everything (job, city, partner, lifestyle).
Yet the truth is the simple, wake-up-every-day-and-
feel-content-where-I-am happiness doesn't come from juggling and re-jigging the external circumstances. Sure, sometimes change is necessary and new chapters worthy of starting. But we're mistaken if we think that mythical "other place" will deliver the unconditional sense of quiet fulfillment we seek. We're erroneous if we think that by ploughing through Craigs List for new apartments across the country, we'll no longer be seeking.
We need to locate that stable happiness where we are today (clue: it's inside us, and meditation is a vehicle to go discover it) and then draw off that fulfillment--really use it--by taking action in our lives, using our inner reserves of creativity, our compassion, our humor and grace in all sorts of everyday ways. Like attending breakfasts with strangers on a Thursday morning.
And then we find, almost magically, we're blooming. We're unfolding. Our happiness has been located at its source--literally, its roots. And in not always running "somewhere else, somewhere else," we've given it a chance to bloom.