Sunday, May 18, 2014

What Is "The Answer?"

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”

Thomas Merton

“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.”

Chinese Proverb

I’m sitting here trying to write, but I have large and looming questions and I’m not sure where to begin.  So I will write until things make sense to me.  By the end of this blog, I hope I will have reached a place of clarity and understanding and in this way I can move forward in my goals.  If I don’t have clarity and understanding then I will move forward in my goals anyway.
First, what are my goals?  To put it succinctly, I want a house near the beach.  The achievement of this goal will represent, figuratively and literally, the fulfillment of other goals.  The other goals are spiritual, financial, professional and personal.   I don’t need to share my specific goals because they are mine, but I think most of us have, or perhaps should have, goals for each area of life.
I use the word “should” sparingly but intentionally here.  It’s not a word I like, because it implies, in my mind at least, a lack of flexibility and thought.  We do things because we “should,” because those are the rules, because that’s the way it’s always been done.  “Should” is about rules and rules, again in my mind, are structures that are designed to control and oppress.  But are all rules bad?  Don’t many rules at least start with a good intention?
(This line of thinking is literally exhausting me.)
I’m not even sure what questions to ask, but I’ll give it a try.
·      What is the balance between rest and goals?
·      Should I take a day off once in a while, once a week even, or should I work as much as I can and just rest when I’m tired?
·      How can I live life without being legalistic and still accomplish things?
·      Can I be and do at the same time?
·      Do I walk by the leading of the Holy Spirit?
·      Do I live in the now?
·      Do I have dogged determination about my goals?

I’m honestly confused.  I know that when I write, I feel better.  Does that mean I should write every day?  Should I write all day?  There are some writers who say to write three to four hours a day.  Is that a rule?  What if I don’t follow it?  Will that mean I will fail as a writer? 
I just finished The Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield.  I mean, I literally just finished it now, because I am looking for what others say about their own struggles.  Pressfield says that the Warrior Ethos, that is self-discipline, is what is needed.  He says,
“How do we find our true calling, our soul companions, our destiny?  (W)e school ourselves in self-motivation, self-command, self-discipline.”
It’s interesting because even living in the moment, in the power of now, in the leading of the Holy Spirit takes self-discipline.
If one of the goals of life is happiness, then I can say that I’m happy with all the work I’ve done in the last year and a half.   I’m happy when I have goals, like my house on the beach.  Work and goals both require self-discipline.
If another goal in life is to make the world a better place then that too requires self-discipline. 
I could sit around here all day and do little or nothing.  I could play online games and read comic books instead of books.  I could entertain myself.  Or I could create some goals that require self-discipline and effort.
In the same book Pressfield also says, “The payoff for a life of adversity is freedom.”  By imposing self-discipline, I’m creating my own adversity.  I don’t have to write.  It’s my day off.  I could, justifiably, take time off, but I choose to work.  I choose to go through this struggle and ask my questions.  This is not a rule; this is a choice.   I don’t do it because I should but because I want to do it.
I started this blog looking for an answer, more specifically, the answer, to my questions.  I don’t think there is one answer.  I think life has an abundance of answers.  Here are some that work for me:
·      Self-discipline
·      Doing my work
·      Love
·      Gratitude
·      Simplicity
·      Study
·      Self-care
·      Worship
·      Living in each moment
·      Allowing others to live by their principles without imposing my own and without being intimidated by theirs

Yesterday my Muse challenged me to be more peaceful, while at the same time move towards my goals.  So one of the answers to my questions is that work and rest are not contradictory but complimentary. They are not enemies; they are allies.  Peace and productivity go together.  I need both to Get Started and to Keep Going.