#OPINION By JOSÉ GABRIEL CARRASCO RAMIREZ: The place we are, want to be, and belong

The present connects us with the reality that will become

Learn to love the little you have, because now it is a lot when later you will be nothing. Only then will you understand that you have the right to aspire for more.

In a town near where I live, there is a McDonald’s where I always go with my 8-year-old twin daughters. Normally I don’t go in the mornings, but this particular day I was coming from an activity with my daughters when I decided to go in there. I am a regular customer, so the manager, Judy, came out, as always, very friendly to take my order.

Sitting at our table, a boy, no older than 17, showed up to sweep the floor around the table, sent by the manager, I imagine. My wife, watching him, noticed that he was a little embarrassed. “He doesn’t belong here,” She told me. I immediately got up and said, “Can I help you? Don’t worry, the manager won’t get your attention.” I grabbed the broom and started sweeping around the table, and beyond.

After finishing, I returned the broom to him and said, “I know what you’re thinking. That this isn’t the place for me to pass the broom. But it turns out it’s where I am right now.” And I added: “In addition to your kindness for giving me the broom, I was able to sweep because I felt free to do so, and I did not feel embarrassed that other people were there.” What’s your name? I asked him. “McCarthy. Jack.”. The boy responded.

The place we are in

Many years ago I understood that one of the fundamental keys to personal fulfillment and success is learning to value and embrace the place we are in at each stage of our lives.

Visualizing the place we are in is an exercise that looks like a movie. Sitting or standing, we close our eyes and imagine we are turning 360 degrees. First right in front of us, then visualizing in that same turn our room, our house, our neighborhood. Then we take an imaginary walk to our routine destinations: the supermarket, the pharmacy, our school, the workplace, the shopping centers, and the parks we usually visit. And on that walk to our routine destinations, we summarize what we do. At each imaginary stop, we observe the people who are part of that daily life: family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and there is even space for pets.

All of that is where we find ourselves. It’s ours now. It is a material reality.

Often, life places us in situations that are not exactly what we had planned or dreamed of. It can be tempting to feel like we don’t belong there, that we’ve strayed from the right path. However, I want to convey a fundamental idea: where you are right now is an essential link in the chain of your life, and it has a purpose in your path.

I always remember a basic prospective exercise for my personal life: it is to imagine that you are on a trail, and your final destination is hidden around the corner of a hill. As you progress, the terrain may become steep and challenging, or it may surprise you with unexpectedly beautiful landscapes. At times, you may feel lost or off course from the path you imagined, but every step you take brings you closer to that hidden destination. It is hidden because it is only visible as you progress. If you know what awaits you and that is what you are looking for, that is hope. If you don’t know what awaits you, but you still know that that is what you are looking for, that is where faith manifests itself.

Knowing how to appreciate our current situation, even if it seems unusual or different from our expectations, is a vital part of our path. It may be a necessary step toward something greater, a lesson we need to learn, an experience that will strengthen us. When we face challenges or unexpected changes, it is always valid to assume that life often surprises us with events that emerge in mysterious ways. What seems like a detour could be the opportunity to develop new skills, discover hidden passions, or connect with people who will positively influence our lives.

The present is a gift, and within it are the seeds of our future. Accepting our current situation does not mean that we should settle for it; It means that we must use it as a springboard to achieve our aspirations. We must not underestimate the importance of valuing this moment, because this is the starting point to build the path to where we want to be.

Life is a journey in constant evolution. Throughout my years of experience, I have seen many people transform challenges into opportunities, turn unexpected situations into doors to a brighter future, and find purpose in places they never imagined. So even if we feel like we’re not where we thought we’d be at 20, 30, 40, or even 50, we shouldn’t feel overwhelmed. We are walkers in constant growth, and each stage of our route is an essential part of our personal history and a manifestation of our life project. We must always appreciate our place at this moment and take advantage of its potential to sculpt a future of experiences.

The place we want to be

From the moment our consciousness allows us to understand that we are owners of our destiny, we find ourselves weaving dreams in the threads of our imagination. These dreams are the architects of plenitude, designing the vision of what we long for at a particular moment in our lives, or even for its entirety. They can be as simple as finding inner peace or as bold as reaching the pinnacle of our professional goals. Regardless of their scale, these dreams represent the innate search for deeper meaning and a richer connection to life. Certainly, we all have dreams and aspirations that we long to achieve. These desires represent plenitude, the state in which we think we will feel fulfilled and happy.

Plenitude, often visualized as the final destination of our dreams, is not simply an ethereal place on the horizon. It is an internal state, reflected in one or several life experiences that encompass both moments of triumph and challenges. Understanding that wholeness is not a single event, but rather a series of interconnected moments is essential to appreciating the richness of the path to our full fulfillment.

It is also necessary to understand that plenitude is not found only in the achievement of tangible goals but in the synthesis of the experiences we accumulate in the pursuit of those dreams. Each step, each challenge overcome, contributes to the richness of life and brings us closer to the state of fulfillment we seek. By embracing the wholeness of experience, we discover that wholeness is both the process and the result. Our dreams act as guiding beacons in the darkness of uncertainty. They guide us, motivate us, and inspire us to move forward, even when the winds of adversity blow against us. These beacons not only illuminate the path to fulfillment but also reveal unknown facets of ourselves along the way.

When I address this idea of ​​lighthouses, and beacons in my talks, I always use a metaphor of “fixed headlights on the horizon” and the “headlights that we carry ourselves”, because it offers a fascinating perspective in the context of my explanations about dreams, aspirations and the search for fulfillment.

With the fixed headlights on the horizon, I always turn to the image of a majestic lighthouse perched on a cliff in the distance, with its brilliant light projecting over the horizon. These ​​lighthouses represent the dreams and aspirations that we often consider to be fixed reference points in our lives. They can be professional goals, personal achievements, or states of happiness that we visualize in the future. It is an idea that comes from ancient times, where guide stars were ​​lighthouses that indicated a direction, offering a clear and defined horizon towards which to navigate.

These fixed lighthouses on the horizon act as constant inspiration. They are the image of what we imagine as our fullness, our highest and most complete version. These dreams are like flashes in the darkness, constantly reminding us of the destiny we aspire to.

On the other hand, they are the headlights that we carry with us, small lights that illuminate our immediate path. These are the dreams that are closest to us, the short-term goals, and the small daily victories that contribute to the journey towards fulfillment. Unlike fixed ​​lighthouses on the horizon, these beacons are mobile and under our direct control.

These personal beacons are like flashlights that we carry as we move forward in the darkness of the present. They can be daily goals, healthy habits, moments of gratitude, or any action that brings us one step closer to our biggest dreams. As we move forward, we move these flashlights, illuminating the path we are creating in real-time.

However, achieving these goals is not just a matter of wanting them; It involves activating our “internal engine” and putting our will in control.

The internal engine is that driving force that resides within us. It is the spark of passion and determination that drives us to pursue our dreams. It is the compass that guides us to the place we want to be. However, having an internal motor is not enough. It requires the will to give it life and direction.

Will is the ability to make decisions and take actions that bring us closer to our objectives. It is the strength that allows us to overcome obstacles and persevere when things become difficult. Without willpower, even the strongest internal engine can become inactive.

So, to reach the place we want to be, we need to start our internal engine and put our will in control. This means clearly defining our objectives, drawing up an action plan, and being willing to work with determination to achieve them. It is not just about dreaming, but about taking concrete and committed measures to transform those dreams into reality.

When the internal engine and the will work together, they become an unstoppable force that guides us towards the realization of our deepest desires. This journey may be full of challenges, but with a strong internal drive and the will to move forward, we are on the right path to get to the place we want to be. The magic happens when we learn to orchestrate the dance between these two types of beacons. Lighthouses fixed on the horizon provide us with direction and long-term vision, while headlights that we carry with us offer us clarity on the immediate path.

We learn to understand fulfillment, when we understand that the biggest dreams and the small daily victories complement each other, giving meaning to our life project.

However, it is essential to recognize that sometimes the horizon can change. Dreams and aspirations evolve as we grow and learn. And therefore, the place where we want to be also changes.

At such times, our ability to adjust fixed headlights on the horizon becomes crucial. Adaptability and flexibility allow us to redefine our goals as we progress, maintaining coherence between our adjusted vision of wholeness and the daily path we travel in our immediate reality.

Every flash of light, whether from the lighthouse fixed on the horizon or the flashlights we carry with us, deserves to be celebrated. Every step forward, big or small, is an integral part of our journey toward wholeness. By appreciating both the big dreams and the small victories, we build a journey full of meaning and satisfaction.

And ultimately, the duality of the beacons fixed on the horizon and the beacons we carry ourselves creates a luminous path on our journey. Appreciating and balancing both perspectives allows us to not only visualize our ultimate destination but also fully enjoy the path we are creating step by step.

Thus, we navigate with our own lighthouses, illuminating each moment with hope and the realization of our dreams, while maintaining a clear vision of the horizon we seek to reach.

The place where we belong

It is very likely that at some point we have asked ourselves if we are in the right place. Or maybe someone told you that he or she had the feeling that we do not belong where we are.

When approaching the sense of belonging to a place, I am always careful to differentiate two expressions that, although they appear to be similar, translate into differentiated visions.

On the one hand, belonging to something is connected to our integration into the environment. This idea refers to being an integral part of or member of something, which implies an active or passive relationship. And the belonging of something refers more to the possession, the appropriation of that something, which is not necessarily tangible. More than a relationship, it is a behavior of exploitation, with the complexities implied by the belief that what is “own” is necessarily defensible.

The sense of belonging, then, will be endowed with an emotional and psychological connection that we feel with a place, a community, or even with objects and experiences. It is the feeling of being rooted, of being part of something bigger than oneself. This sense can arise from our shared experiences, interpersonal relationships, and identification with the values ​​and culture of a certain environment.

Belonging to a place is not limited to a physical space, like the town where I live or the McDonald’s that I frequent with my daughters. It goes beyond geographic coordinates and extends to the feeling of connection and contribution to the community around us. At McDonald’s, for example, in the interaction with McCarthy, the young man who was sweeping, my wife reminded me of the importance of extending our sense of belonging to each person who is part of our environment, giving relevance to the position or work they perform.

That’s why, from our sense of belonging, taking young Jack’s broom highlights the potential that we all have to take our place in other spaces, because an environment with people who are valued expands our environment, allowing others to integrate into it.

Where we belong is not only defined by the material environment, but by the acceptance and appreciation of our contributions, no matter how modest they may seem. By realizing that everyone has a vital role in the complex web of relationships and experiences that make up our community, we create a place where everyone feels part of something bigger.

Belonging also encompasses the emotional and spiritual connection with our environment. It is the feeling of being understood and accepted by those around us, as well as the mutual acceptance and understanding of others.

In our constant search for personal fulfillment, it is essential to recognize that where we belong is dynamic and can evolve as we grow and learn. We are not limited to a single space or community; Instead, we are beings in constant movement, capable of creating and finding belonging in various facets of life. By understanding and embracing where we belong, we contribute to building more compassionate and supportive communities. We recognize the importance of each individual, regardless of position or role, and foster an environment where diversity of skills and experiences are celebrated.

The place where everything is

When I was studying law at university, I once wrote a thought for my friend Maria Consuelo, undoubtedly a person with a brilliant mind. This thought said: “Love the little you have because now is a lot when later you will be nothing. Only then will you understand that you have the right to aspire for more.” And I think that reflection powerfully summarizes the essence of “The place we are, the place we want to be, and the place we belong.”

In life, we are often searching for something more, for a better place, for a higher state of fulfillment. However, it is essential to remember that the starting point, “the place we are at”, is valuable in itself. Appreciating what we have right now is a reminder that our current circumstances, however modest they may be, are an essential part of our journey. It is at this starting point that we build the foundation to achieve what we want.

We already explained that internal motor, and will drive us to pursue those dreams and aspirations that represent “the place we want to be.” These desires are beacons that guide us and motivate us to move forward but to achieve them, we must take action, work with determination, and overcome the obstacles that arise along the way.

Finally, “the place where we belong” is the destination that we reach or that reaches us, but where we integrate to be part of a whole. It is where we find fulfillment and a deep sense of belonging, and it is the result of loving and valuing both the starting point and the journey itself. Appreciating “the little we have” at each stage teaches us to give value to our experiences and achievements, regardless of the opinion of others. Valuing and taking advantage of what we have in the present is essential to moving towards our goals and finding a sense of belonging along our path. Appreciating the journey in all its stages helps us recognize that, throughout our lives, each stop is an essential part of a story that only we can understand in its entirety. It is a reminder that to aspire for more, we must first understand the essentials of deeply loving what we already have, and where we are.

José Gabriel Carrasco Ramirez

José Gabriel Carrasco Ramirez

Humanist, a man of governance, entrepreneur, a lawyer dedicated to international studies, human rights, security, and defense. Planner, designer of strategies, committed to his slogan of believing, creating, and doing.

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