This morning I woke up with a sense of dissatisfaction. I overslept and I missed an opportunity to do something I wanted to do. As often happens, my mind started becoming critical and blaming of my behaviors, my use of time, and my efforts. Then it went further. I started considering the “big” questions and I needed some answers.
· What is the meaning of life?
· What do I want?
· Why do I want it?
· What is the most important thing in life?
· Should I focus on what I want?
· Should I focus on a life of love or service or doing my work?
· Am I inherently selfish for wanting to be happy?
· Why am I here?
· Is my existence accidental and inconsequential, or was I created for a purpose?
· What about love, companionship, friends, work, the planet, or the self?
Because of the way my mind works, it seems that these questions could go on indefinitely, leaving me frustrated, sad, and afraid. I was writing all of these questions and ideas and more when two things happened.
First, the physical act of writing began to bring me peace. My angst, self-criticism, and fear began dissolving. I was lost in the moment, on the page, in the writing. I wasn’t thinking, I was just being. To get to that place though, I had to be doing. In this case I had to be writing. And I had to be writing until I got peaceful. It helped me to write without stopping. I’m easily distracted, but when I controlled that I got calm more quickly.
Second, I arrived at an answer to all of my questions. Before I share my answer, I want to say that it’s my answer. It may not be your answer. On the other hand, it may be your answer. It may be everyone’s answer. I say this not from conceit or pretentiousness, but from a desire to help and to relieve others of their own psychic pain and confusion. I will also add that this may be an answer, rather than the answer. I don’t know if there is one answer to all of life’s questions. There isn’t one question, so why should there be one answer?
Having said all that, here’s what I think:
Life is like school and we are all enrolled as long as we are alive. It’s not like K-12 when we are required to go. It’s more like community college.
A little personal background is in order here. On my first day of attending Grossmont Community College, I made a crucial and important discovery: whatever happened from this point was my choice.
· I could do well or fail.
· I could attend classes or not.
· No one was asking me why I wasn’t in class.
· I could choose the classes I wanted to take at the times I wanted to take them.
· If I decided I didn’t like the class or the teacher, I could drop the class.
· I could even leave the campus and get lunch somewhere else.
· I never had to leave. I could take courses at the community college level for as long as I wanted.
After twelve years of being told what I was allowed to do and not do, after twelve years of being contained and given few or no choices, I was finally able to make my own choices. It was wonderful. Yes, there were consequences and rewards for my choices, but they were finally my choices.
Here was the other piece: I could go as far as I wanted and I could learn as much as I wanted. I could stay where I was or I could move on to a higher level.
That’s how life is.
We can go as far as we want and learn as much as we want. Or we can stay where we are. If we don’t like where we are, then it is up to us to change.
Here’s another analogy. Life is like a building with an infinite number of floors. If we survive to the age of reasoning, then we each have a choice to take the stairs up to the next level. There’s no elevator. We have to make the effort to move up. It’s not an unreasonable number of stairs, but we have to walk up them. We can only go one floor at a time, but on each of those floors are rooms that contain books and ideas to help us grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. We are not required to move up. If we are content, we can stay where we are.
But I think life offers us each an infinite number of treasures, choices, and opportunities. We don’t have to take any of them and we probably shouldn’t try to take all of them. But we can have as much as we want as long as we are willing to take the stairs. When we have gotten all we want or need from one level, we can go to the next.
A secret to life then is choice. Our choice. Your choice. My choice. Also our responsibility. Your responsibility. My responsibility.
Where I am is good. I am extremely blessed in many ways. But I know that there is more. I can do more, have more, and be more, as Brian Tracy says. I want this, not because my life is bad, but because there are more good things to discover. I want all that God and life have to offer. I want to Get Started and Keep Going…as far as I can go.