Sunday, January 2, 2011

What To Do? (Part One)

“Don’t just sit there. Do something!”

In our society, activity is highly valued. We set goals and create resolutions, personally and professionally.  We make plans. Sometimes we create special rewards for ourselves for when we make the goal – a new outfit once 20 pounds have been dropped. (I heard it’s better to say dropped than lost, which implies a need to search for and find). At any given moment, most of us could come up with a list of things we’d like to accomplish, a list of personal “shoulds”. Many of us take time to consider this list of “shoulds”. Many of us actually write them down and feel a sense of accomplishment when we scratch something we’ve successfully completed off the list.
I’m not sure that many of us spend time considering the ultimate merit of some of our own “shoulds” and whether our own goal is in true alignment with our very personal life priorities. What is truly important? What gives richness and meaning to life? What makes an individual’s heart sing? What is the legacy that I am leaving? How will I be remembered? When I am lying in my final moments of this lifetime, what are the memories for which I will be most grateful?
My sense is that I will not thank the Lord that I maintained my goal weight. Nor will I be expressing gratitude for my net worth, or the level of my garage’s tidiness.   Here are a few things to consider:

1.         KNOW YOURSELF.
So before running off to do one’s “to do’s”, I believe that it’s fundamentally important to first become clear about true priorities. Why do we do the things we do?  Are my priorities truly mine, or are they beliefs and ideas that I picked up from my family environment, my culture, my society?  What standard are we using to assess ourselves and our own accomplishments?  There seems to be a growing malaise in our society. Perhaps we’ve lost touch with our own hearts and souls.
In order to come back into balance, both individually and as a society, I believe that we must deepen our sense of self, our inner-knowing.
In order to truly know ourselves, it is vitally important to set aside time. It seems like an odd question to even ask: Do you know yourself? That is the fundamental starting point, followed by: Are you comfortable with yourself? Could you spend a pleasant day completely alone?  Quiet times of contemplation are not necessarily encouraged in our society.  Again, we have placed great value on doing, producing, creating, on having something to show for our efforts. At the end of a quiet, contemplative day, we may be closer to our own hearts being at peace, something of immeasurable value.
I remember years ago when my daughters were five and seven years old and I was working hard to build my law practice. I had a series of meetings scheduled in Atlanta and for various reasons ended up with a completely free day. I woke up that morning and remember feeling completely lost. It had been so many years since I had only myself to take care of that I had forgotten how to do that.  It was extremely disconcerting and actually inspired me to make many changes in my life.

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