life is NOT about being happy

Kamis, 03 Desember 2009

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

While desperately pursuing a sweet spot in life, a carefree happiness that’s eluded me for some time, I’ve recently lost sight of any higher purpose. I, like a child, wanted instant gratification. Intentionally forgetting that enlightenment and wisdom most often come through great adversity and pain, I’ve just been trying to get the pain to stop. Doing so, I believe I may be inadvertently slowing the process to that eventual goal. When we set aside our problems to be looked at later and drown our sorrows in the protective presence of friends and beer, those problems don’t disappear. I know this, but I am not living this.

I don’t want to just get by in life, I want to experience it to the fullest, to the absolute hilt.

What I am doing now, how I make use of my time now, will never get me to the hilt.

“In the end, it’s what gets you through the day that counts.”

So many people repeat and/or subscribe to this theory, but dwelling on it this evening, I realized it couldn’t be more wrong. Making the most of your life means doing the exact opposite of that, for sure. It has everything to do with what you choose to do to get you through the day.

For the people who regularly end a long workday with a six-pack of beer and mind numbing television programs, they are making a choice. A life choice. That choice, poor or not, is to zone out, veg out and otherwise zombie-walk through the rest of their lives. Rather than face each day clear-headed and vulnerable to life’s inevitable disappointments, they prefer to immune themselves to trials and tribulations with numbing agents that narrow their fields of perception. There are nearly endless ways to zone out; video games, movies, talking mindlessly on the phone, bottles of wine, whatever. And I’m not saying that a few mind numbing nights are not in order…we all need to zone out once in awhile. However, the ease in which you can slip into that numbing process is dangerous. Suddenly, it’s every night and you wake up one day, wondering what the hell you’ve accomplished in your life. Well, the answer is in the moments you let slip away.

I made some serious promises to myself about a year ago. Promises concerning patience and kindness to others, pursuing wisdom in all things, learning from my mistakes, indulging my insatiable pursuit of knowledge and realizing important goals. I’ll admit it. They’ve been put on the back burner recently. No, not just on the back burner, if I’m being honest with myself. They’ve gone largely ignored as of late and the fault lies only and solely with me.

Coming to the realization a few years ago that I’d lived my life somewhat indulgently and even been reckless with other’s feelings and hearts, I decided then to be more cautious in all aspects of life. That is a difficult task for me, considering my naturally flighty and spontaneous nature. Well, I would say that in many aspects, I was successful. Today I can say with confidence that I am an honest, straight-forward and thoughtful person.

Unfortunately, I can not say that I am any closer to realizing my goals and I am no longer learning or moving forward. I’ve reached a wall in my evolution, and in order to scale that wall, I think I’m going to have to accept a certain amount of fresh pain and grunt work is a must. It’s time for me to cleanse, refresh and start over. Since I don’t have outrageous sums of money to hide away, contemplating in a lake cabin for a year, I’m going to have to suck it up and say no to the temptations around me. I must learn to focus, or I will never reach a single one of these goals.

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