As I said in my introduction, I think one of the biggest lies of this life is that all its really meaningful moments are big events: getting married, touring Europe, having a baby, playing the palace, or making executive manager. For many of us unless we can point to something really substantial happening to us every week we have no idea we’re living at all!
Isn’t that why we idolize movie stars, football players and rock singers? It isn’t just the fact that they might have talent; it’s that we are enamored of their lifestyle. We spend time fanaticizing about what it must be like to live the grand life, a life of largess so spectacular and exciting. So, if we’re on the talk show circuit, our life has been validated. The rest of us are just wanna-bes, what’s left behind when the shiny ones step up on the platform of public acknowledgement. Then there’s the inevitable confusion when we read about one coming home and taking a bottle of pills to end it. Are they trying to tell us something? I don’t consider the famous that fortunate. Most of them have very little private time and they lose the thread to their own heart.
Real life is all that stuff in between big events and most of our time is spent there. Day to day life, that’s what really interests me because it’s where the meaning is. It’s the pith and the point of it all. Yet, we have very little respect for every day life at the moment. It’s considered small and trivial.
I am passionate about daily life, connecting the dots of one mundane moment to the next, all I’ve seen to what I’ve read to who I am today and then watching it all play out in my world. Being able to ask myself: “Did I do that well?” “What do I think about that? Can I do it better next time?” The conscious awareness that every intention, every step I take, carries in it the face of my future, is a constant source of fascination.
Each moment of every day holds a challenge to know myself. A chance to try and:
- Be totally honest without hurting anyone’s feelings
- Take responsibility for my choices and actions
- Allow everyone else to be who they are
- Relate to others on a meaningful level
- Face a fear by doing something I avoid
- Create without anxiety
- Keep my balance emotionally, mentally, and physically
- Heal the past
- Value all that I have
- Change what I don’t like about myself
- Learn to accept what is hard-wired into my psyche
- Nurture my physical body to stay healthy
These goals can be extremely challenging, more than enough to keep me busy or engaged in my life. Everyone has their own list of course. Someone else’s challenges might look quite different from mine. All we need is a little self- knowledge and we know right away what to place on our list.
What we do and say that day can be weighed against our list. However, I don’t feel too bad if I blow it today. There’s always tomorrow! I am not perfect. The list isn’t supposed to stress me out or undermine my confidence. It’s something to aspire to, not a way to punish myself. It should be almost fun. Life is just a constant challenge to get it right. When we have a day where we’ve met some of our personal goals it’s the equivalent of winning an award. Other people may not realize what we’ve done, but we sure do.
Besides, going through a day meeting everyone’s eyes can be like climbing Mount Fuji to someone who’s shy. Strapping on some downhill skis despite your fear of heights pushes some people way beyond their borders. Giving up your wants in favor of a friend’s is tantamount to getting the key to the executive washroom when you’re inclined to be a bit self-centered. You’ve just earned a personal promotion and don’t it feel good?
We have no role models for this kind of activity in America, our culture admires people for what they can do or have done, not who they are. There is no expectation of honor or integrity that the people in the limelight must live up to, nothing internal they must be…to be admired. As long as they can pass that football, every bad boy jerk in the world gets his photo on the cover of Time. In fact it makes for better copy if they are less than savory, or even downright obnoxious!
Things that really give life meaning don’t necessarily garner recognition like diplomas or letters tacked to the end of a name. The attainment of some pinnacle of outward success is meant to be the icing on an already richly layered cake. It is the process that is important, not the results. That’s why winning the lottery doesn’t resolve a life automatically making that person happy for the rest of their life.
The not-so-measurable achievements of keeping pure of heart in a corrupt world, holding onto integrity while those in authority reward dishonesty, treachery, and greed or trying to get what I want without further polluting the environment or disrespecting another’s space is quite enough of a power-trip for me.
It does follow that as we change and grow and move ahead psychologically our outside life catches up and reflects that, but not immediately. The process may take years. It doesn’t mean those years are wasted, that they aren’t important. Just because we don’t have anything tangible to show for it so far, there’s no need to panic. The growth may all be internal. It all counts, every step: everything counts.
Of course if you can recall every plot line of Desperate Housewives and the names of all the microbrews you’ve tried this year, perhaps you are wasting your time and need a change, but as long as you have an intention is to live it well, a good life is almost guaranteed.
When I look back on last year, it isn’t just about what I’ve done. Sure, it feels good to see things happening, to see the tangible results of hard work. Bragging rights are fun, but the true work and the best accomplishments always take place inside of me. The best results are measured by how much satisfaction I now get from my life. Hopefully, I am getting smarter, braver, and kinder: that’s what will lead me to experience more joy and satisfaction!
Nothing is wasted, everything counts. With or without outward recognition, when lived with intention, with vision, and in detail, every-day life is the most heart thumping, emotionally exhausting, head crazy thing there is. It’s a ride and if we’re living it right, it’s an E-ticket one.
All Text and Photos are Copyrighted 2012 CLCW