There is a t-shirt I have (that is, that I asked my wife to buy me for a birthday) which has a saying on it that inspires me both on the face of it and by the thoughts that it triggers in me. I have considered sharing those before, but have always put it off, fearing that it might end up silly or preachy or make me look foolish. Eventually, though, I realized that my own negativity about how my thoughts might be received was depriving me of the chance to organize those thoughts in writing, and possibly some reader of whatever value they may contain So I decided to post this despite my misgivings. The t-shirt says:
If all is not lost, where is it?
Now, of course, this saying plays on the usual interpretation of "all is lost" to mean that All is gone, non-existent. And I know that some people feel that way; I have, at times. But if there is no All, then you would have to account for the presence of so very much universe, so much humanity that's still there, all around you. If you accept that the universe is even approximately infinite, then your All has to be in there somewhere.
So let's start by assuming that your All is just lost, or in another way of speaking, that it has lost track of you somehow. Okay, then it makes sense that you at least might have some way of finding it again.
But before you run off searching, you might want to spend a little more time deciding exactly what your All is. If you don't have a clear picture of it, how will you recognize it when you find it? You could be looking right at it. I know that's often what happens with my keys.
Don't skimp on this phase, even if you think that the answers are obvious. Maybe especially if you think the answers are obvious. All is a pretty big thing to try to grasp at the best of times, and when you're panicked because it's lost, it's easy to persuade yourself that you'll never find it again.
So, once you have an idea of what All you're looking for (as they say in the South,) where do you start? Well, we can continue with the analogy of my keys by suggesting that you start looking where you last remember you had it. I know that sounds either stupid or obvious; and amusingly, that's why I said it. Again, we're talking about a situation where you may not be thinking very clearly.
But where you last had it, even if you're sure it's not there any more, can give you a lot of hints about where to look next. And even if you feel that you have never had it, you must have some similar experience you can relate it to, or you couldn't form the concept of your All in the first place. If your All is a feeling of peace or happiness, the conditions that allow you to feel that way are probably pretty close to the ones where you last felt it. If your All is a relationship that is now lost, it makes sense not to seek a new All in a place where there are no people.
A "new" All, did I say? If it's All, how can you have a new one? Well, we return here to that phase of trying to be clear about what All you want. If you have been making a single person, or a group, or some part of you, or something you could be, your All, haven't you been limiting it, quite a bit? For instance, if All you seek is to feel better, who's to say that that's not on its way, only it's part of a bigger All than you thought?
Maybe, in fact, All cannot be lost; you're embedded in it. That may make it harder to see. Especially, it may make it harder to see the part of the All that you're particularly looking for. But what's around you is the All, so what you seek is in there, somewhere. You just have to keep seeking it.
That's All, folks!