The Game of Run and Seek

Sometimes to find ourselves, we need to care for someone else

Excerpted from "The Boy He Left Behind" by Mark Matousek, with permission of the publisher, Riverhead Books (2000)

When I first told Louis that I was a loner who'd recently led a nomadic life, he asked me what I was running from. We'd met a few days earlier in the flower shop where he works; now we were sitting across a red-checked tablecloth, eating lasagna, trying to bond on our first date. Louis didn't like to talk, but when he spoke, he meant what he said.

"What are you running from?" he asked when I told him that in the past six years, I'd lived in 26 different locations. The question insulted me. I wasn't running, I was a seeker; there was a difference. The way I saw it, seekers were heroes, while running was a cowardly act.

After the plague struck and friends started dying, I quit my job as an editor and shifted gears from struggling up the media ladder to making sense of what, if anything, life might

mean

. I wanted to know why I felt inauthentic, as if I were a chronic impostor; why, in spite of an outwardly prosperous life, I was so drained and depressed inside, and sometimes even wanted to die. I knew that my soul needed careful attention, whether or not my body was sick, and I spent the next six years seeking answers and training from teachers and priests, traveling in Europe and India, immersing myself in spiritual texts, believing that only a higher power could fill this grim emptiness inside me. This seeking became more focused and urgent the day I learned I had the virus.

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Somehow, in all my compulsive seeking, I'd forgotten that enlightenment started with love.
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Mark Matousek
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