The title comes from a famous statement of St Augustine that “Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.” The good bishop wrote that sentence in his Confessions book of 397 A.D.  Augustine’s book was radically new in history in that it provided a personal analysis. The Bishop of Hippo divulged stories of his childhood--like stealing an apple and disappointing his mother and how he was transformed by a belief in God.  Strangely, without believing in a transcendent God whatsoever, I find this old bromide about being restless and finding rest makes developmental psychological sense.

To true believers I ask a simple question: “Can it possibly be that we have learned something about human psychology since the 4th Century?”  I’ll save the idea of Christian “Road to Damascus” conversion belief for the footnote.  In this brief paper I pursue several tangents prior to getting a modern psychological answer to apple stealing and surrender to God as the solution to the restlessness in the human heart. People try many avenues to solve inner emptiness. What is the source of this unease? To gain a modern answer we must pursue brain development and social separation from parents. There are six phases in the development of autonomy.

Stages of the First Journey of Individualism

1.  Age 2:  An adamant “No!” startles parents.  With the first stubborn stroke of defiance, the child begins the First Journey as separateness is demanded. The child leaves the original attachment and mentally (sometimes secretively due to authoritarian parenting) quits being in non-thinking tenderness. The move is from infancy to childlike thinking.  A bit of anger comes forth. “I’ll do it my way!” the kid seems to proclaim. Unfortunately, the separation leaves a trace of residual loneliness. The child is psychologically leaving home, mom, a protective father, and the security of the nest. Hidden within, is an unarticulated yearning.  (Brain researchers have discovered that the Left Brain dramatically kicks in during this two year old phase.)
2.   Age 14: The separation escalates socially, or, maybe (given the authoritarian context) only internally. The child may have nice relations with parents on the surface. Still, in ways covert and overt, the teenager is saying “Stop preaching at me.” “Leave me alone.” “Let me grow up.” This second power thrust, on the Journey of Independence, is understandable,  but, if one is a parent who wants to protect the adolescent from harm, it happens to be a pain in the ass. Parents are befuddled in knowing what to do. Often, they watch somewhat helplessly.    
3. Accelerated separation while at college:  The grown child/adult looks at parents as Neanderthal figures who are out of date with the times in terms of music, clothes, the Zeitgeist, and ideas. Now, the ‘autonomy separation’ is virtually achieved. The child/adult still has no notion of something valuable that was lost, but feels restlessness underneath (in addition to sexual urges.)  There is no conscious understanding that one’s powerful thrust for an autonomous life has caused a loss of  baby tenderness and has created an ache inside for something desirable, long ago and faraway.  The individual seeks to fill the yearning emptiness within through other means. 
4.  Marriage or coupling of some sort:  Fully engaged in the First Journey of independence from parents, the person accepts no significant input from minister, teacher, counselor, friends, etc. about the coupling step. A marriage may be to a person, but it could be to anything from crime to a religious ideology.  Psychological observations of humans reveal there to be an inevitable marriage to something or someone in order to avoid loneliness--just as Sigmund Freud pointed out. Humans may marry money, fame, success, power, adventure, sports, glamour, intellectual pursuits, various pleasures, and semi-intellectual ideologies. Or, to solve the yearning within, a person may quickly marry a husband or wife without input from others. The largest percentage of these first ‘marriages’ do not delete ‘restlessness;’ there is a haunting internal dissatisfaction though it is hard to put a finger on. It is much easier to blame the partner. “Maybe what is missing is a baby,” the person thinks and children come forth. Bonding with the baby may help but doesn’t fill the yearning within.

5. Child rearing: The First Journey continues as both parents may idly pick up child-rearing hints from others, but the main current is “I (or we) can do it better.”  In fact, if a parent (God forbid!) were to cross the invisible line and offer advice, the new parents are incensed. They smugly say: “Don’t you dare tell me how to raise my child!” The new parents are certain that their love is sufficient and they know better. After all, they can catalog their parents’ mistakes! They often make the opposite set of mistakes.  In addition to the new elements, what is frequently done is a replay of each new parent’s Script in some form or another. Grandparents become silent watchers because they know that if they dare speak up, the grandson or grand-daughter will return to the Separation mode and do a mini-abandonment.

6. The mid-life crisis.  Now we are up to the forties of an individual’s life and the restless beat within escalates. Something is missing. The person bumbles around to find the lost undefined “IT” in a new relationship, cars, motorcycles,  hairdos, tattoos,  change of jobs, and the list goes on. There is no conscious sense that the missing part is within because the individual, mid-journey, does not know what she or he wants to satisfy the inner yearning. Therapists stress “Want Lists” to get the person centered on a solid goal.  Some wait for heaven. Others see death approaching and exclaim: “My god! What am I doing with my life?”

7. Realization that nothing works.  Still unhappy and wanting some unconscious something, the person dreams of a paradise, a Shangrila, Xanadu, an end to the “restless heart.” Is it a new partner?  Fabulous sex? Is it God? Is it a religious community? Is it fighting for a political cause? Is it building a second home on a plot of land in Idaho? Is it recognition from others as the finest car is purchased to tool around town in? There is a pervasive emptiness that refuses to be filled.

Two marvelous events may happen during  Phase Seven—that is, they are “marvelous” if the right constructive-to-the-soul decisions are made.

The first is that the person encounters the abandonment issue. Whether being divorced or doing the divorcing, there is a personal writhing with the loneliness-lonely-alone-solitude sequence. If major struggling with abandonment with a love of solitude be not achieved, the person seeks another symbiotic choice that avoids real growth. Struggling with this issue of abandonment is another form of dealing with the reality of death and the certain knowledge that death applies to “my body.” “My body will definitely end so I’d better get with it! I only have a little time left.”

The second issue is a corollary to the first, namely, a person assumes responsibility for his or her life as well as realizing that others are responsible for their lives also. This means a cessation of the childhood belief that one can grandiosely make others happy or that others are responsible for “my happiness.”  In other words, the individual grows up, psychologically speaking. “From here on out,” the person reasons, “it is up to me.” (Philosophical insertion: All religions assume that each person is responsible for her or his individual choices. It is children who grandiosely think themselves the super humans who are responsible for the happiness and welfare of a given loved one, usually the mother or father at the beginning of the syndrome. Unfortunately, the simplistic religions, with their austere right/wrong moralistic beliefs, keep people little.)

Inner Knowledge. Only a few make it this far because it takes supreme effort to hone in on what is deeply wanted within.  The wise discover that what is wanted is the tender closeness that was there originally at the breast of the mother and during infancy within a caring family. The lost IT is the golden blessed tender attachment that was there before the Journey of Separation occurred at age two. Originally, there was rest for the heart, a sense of utter trust, and a peace that permeated a child’s being. Now knowing what is wanted, a person’s search for a new coupling is aimed far more wisely. The ‘coupling’ does not have to be with a person; it may well be with a wedding to nature, to compassionate giving, or to some other soulful relationship. The idea is to re-gain the full appreciation that was originally there in Right Brain infantile awareness.

The question remains: ‘What is the solution to the inner unease?’ I’m convinced the answer is this: we must surrender the original journey of separation triggered by a two year old and try a new path. The original separation had an impulse of scare as the child rebelled.  We must give up the burden of individualism  with its scare trigger where we continually shuttle to a separate objective thinking place. Certainly we maintain the values of the logical Left Brain Mind.  But, keep in mind, that the issue within is union, attachment, and closeness to nurture.  I dare to repeat: it is clear to me that people in search want something back like they experienced as a baby: a sense of home, a magnetically loving something or someone who provides a powerful sense of secure safety. We lost what our souls want and do not know where to find the missing heart piece. Some choose to go it alone until the very end. Only a few find the grand solution.

The Second Journey of Soul Fulfillment
Here I pause for a self-aggrandizing piece. The only wise statement that ever flopped out of my head is this: We are always in the womb if we but knew it. By this I meant that the world provides dynamic stimulation all around us. In awakening from the separation obsessive stupor begun by a two year old, liberated adults understand there is so much to experience--so much to see and hear and feel and do--that there can never be room for boredom. The huge burden of individuality turned out to be a narcissistic trip. Maturity means we accept our microscopic place in the entire scheme of life, know that death is a certainty, and the opportunity is ever around us to become lost in nature, the miracle of life, and the utter joy of living and learning. The Ego Journey with its motivating spark of fear has come to an end. We become absorbed—not into some delusional human institution—but in life itself. What is, is. What is, is enough.

All we need to do is marry life and life’s fantastic parade of moments. In so doing, the attachment is to Mother Earth and the accomplishments of humanity. Life becomes one of discovery, creativity and growth. One regains the curiosity and wonder of a child (wed with the capabilities of the adult mind) and goes through life celebrating and giving to others. This is the true experience of “being surprised by joy, restless as the wind” of which William Wordsworth spoke. It means the fresh spring of freedom has burst forth in the soul.

This second journey is one of choice. It contains no delusion, no illusion, no fantasy, no magic, and no wish for later fulfillment. It means concentrating on the Now.  There is no mystery to this Second Journey whatsoever. Rather, one recaptures the essence of a child’s wonder and original fascination with learning and weds that with the full intelligence of an adult.  The First Journey’s blinders are removed. There is no obsession to be separate and attain; it’s okay to listen to others and learn. There is no inner scared urge to insist upon separateness.  Rather, there is the inner choice to blend into the process of creative life.

 Is this a new form of narcissism? Not in the least. Rather, it is a loss of the burden of individuality, and choosing, instead, to be part of this marvelous experience of life. For example, just the mere act of sitting under a tree holds no electric stimulus within to immediately get up and do something. Rather, the sitting is the doing, the absorbing is the doing, and the appreciation is the doing. The soul is at rest. This is accompanied by a bubble of laughter as one realizes some of errant paths along the First Journey. “I’ll choose joy the rest of my trip.”

There is no further yearning if one decides upon life affirmation. This does not mean a passive apathy where one simply watches the world go by without participation. Rather, the opportunity is seized to keep life, culture, and the good continuing. The impulse within includes protecting the Earth Mother by helping life along and opposing all who destroy human life and hope. It is critical to note the decision, in this second journey, to contribute. In so doing, the person solves the question of meaning.

An Additional Bonus
 I have long been amazed at how people do not search for a soul partner. Rather, the tendency is to wait for the person to just appear. This has shocked me so much that sometimes I have almost yelled at a given person to awaken: “Hey! You sought out a college and studied for years to get to where you are in life. Is not finding a partner as important as going to college? Come on. Wake up. Start searching. Your soul partner is out there if you just get off your ass and put your full effort in finding her (or him).” It baffles me how a person can work forty hours a week and passively hope for a loving partner, but not spend an equivalent amount of time in search.

The next hurdle is answering the question: “Where do you look?” If you have attained the core of the Second Journey, you go to places where there are people of soul. It is desirable to find a partner who has similar values and goals in life, not one who is not still enmeshed in the First Journey and thinks your job is to make him or her happy. If there is a refrain of “my happiness depends upon you,” it is time to search elsewhere.  You make sure that the person is not into tissue destruction via drugs or alcoholism.  If the discovered individual oozes with unresolved child issues, you might consider stepping away, running, and looking all over again. Actually, no one can give advice on how to find a soul partner. You know in your essence when you have found the one. Until then, knock on many doors and use the Internet.

As said before, Augustine had a decent idea when he underscored St. Paul’s dramatic conversion experience on the Road to Damascus.  The idea is to switch trains and, rather than go in the direction of self, re-find your route to a more happy choice.
Conversion is very understandable if you chance to watch parenting of children. They are daily pounded with instructions, inhibitions, scolding, shaming and injunctions. “Straighten up!  Don’t do this!  Don’t do that.” Childhood drubbing is intended to provide safety and social survival. What is really driven in by the daily dosages is an undercurrent of Superego rules and regulations. Even during the Separation the child is not spared until, finally, there is a surcease of the injunction ordeal as the child leaves home.

This means that all during the Journey of Independence (lined out above) the grownup has an undercurrent of being … sinful … of being less than … of failing mom and dad (Monica). The Christian solution is turning on a dime and switching back into the parental way and foregoing the rebellion.  This means that the person goes back home to mommy and daddy’s protection, now raised to the Sky in terms of God, the Church, and a safe and secure rhetoric system of rights and wrongs and dos and don’ts. 

The way originally outlined above does not follow the same path. Rather, a person foregoes extra-terrestrial Sky God-Heaven language and focuses on fulfillment in this world. There is no delusional promise of eternal life; rather there is death—that great instructor that counsels a person to live and give to the full while there is still time.
And so, once again, a person has a choice. One option is to snuggle into a religious community and adjust one’s self to the mores of a pleasant community, or learn to accept moments of true identification with what is, as solitude and time-bound friendships are celebrated in the moment.  One person read this article and thought that last sentence grim.  I believe it life-affirming.