I need to step back from my life in order to regain an objective view (if that’s possible) of whether or not I am investing my time, energy, and resources as effectively as possible. Recently I’ve been contemplating how easily distracting it is to be coping well while losing sight of the fact that in coping we end up reacting, rather than owning.
Life happens based on what we perceive as being a priority. As we invest in those priorities, be they people or material outcomes, they increase or decrease in value for us. When we find ourselves enjoying success in any of them, we invest more. If we find a sense of fulfilment or joy in them, we invest more. Eventually, we focus on the success and the outcomes and how that makes us feel, while forgetting to question whether or not the investment is still in line with our original purpose for making the investment. In other words, we end up investing in our ego as the priority, with the original objective becoming a secondary concern.
It’s this cycle that I’m weary of. I pause for brief moments at times, and sometimes I’m caused to pause by health or other events, and in that brief moment I notice how little of my life is firmly in hand. Not from a controlling perspective, but from a deliberate investment perspective. How much of what I do am I doing because it is what I intended or needed to do, versus how much of it is purely because I am responding out of obligation or habit?
Part of the challenge of surrounding yourself with people that either don’t know you as well as they need to (often through no fault of their own but because of how inaccessible certain parts of us are) is that we have less sources of objective but meaningful criticism. This is exacerbated when we find ourselves surrounded by those that are at a life stage that we may have passed, or because they respect or admire us so much that they see no fault. When this becomes the make up of our social circles, be it significant others or professional acquaintances, we risk becoming heroes in our own minds.
The balance that eludes me is that despite being significantly productive by average standards, I am nagged with thoughts that I am not achieving nearly as much as I am capable of doing. The clutter, the noise, the distractions, and even the productive moments are so loosely strung together that the thread is almost invisible. Gaining visibility of that thread that pulls it all together will allow me to determine if its my own thread, or am I just a bead on someone else’s necklace? [That’s a weird analogy but I’m going to leave it there for now].
I need my own string of pearls. Costume jewellery (or junk jewellery as I prefer to call it) is far too easy to acquire and model into designs that are sparkly in appearance but lacking in true value. I need to ensure that the design of my life is in line with my understanding of the higher purpose that I profess to serve. Living responsively pacifies the yearning for movement in life, but it does little for the need for purpose. It’s for this reason that we sometimes find ourselves swamped with responsibility and inclusion, with no shortage of social contribution or familial relations, yet feel empty or unfulfilled.
More than being appreciated, I think we each have a deeper desire for leaving a legacy. That legacy is not materialistic in nature. Materialism satisfies the ego, not the spirit. The legacy has to testify to the improvement of the quality of life of others, or else our existence remains a commodity, or entirely inconsequential. Being inconsequential tears away at souls more often than we realise. It comes disguised as lacking in influence, or waiting for love, or even hoping for specific outcomes that are beyond our realistic reach. When our will to acquire that which remains elusive eventually fades, that’s when the feelings of being inconsequential set in; followed promptly by depression, self-loathing, lack of motivation, and often self-harm (not always with a blade either).
To avoid these pitfalls, I need to take time to step back, to observe and to account for the way in which my life is being expended. I see it as a traditional scale with the weight of my contribution to others on one side, and my extraction of benefit or personal gain on the other. The former must always be heavier, but never so heavy that it bottoms out. If it bottoms out, it means that I have failed to show due appreciation for myself, and for the abilities I have to contribute towards others. It means that I’ve become a martyr rather than a champion, or a pawn rather than a participant. And if the latter is weighed down, it means that I have become self-indulgent, quite possibly seeing others with contempt, ungrateful for what I have or receive, and a liability rather than an asset to society.
The quiet moments are needed for this to re-form to a shape that is wholesome and beneficial without detracting from the reality of my life. The outcome cannot be a dreamy one. It cannot be so superficial or esoteric that it offers little to no tangible value to those around me, or me. Instead, it must be substantial enough to encourage a recalibration of those areas of my life that are excessive in nature, or investment. It must provide a semblance of solace, and a tone that harmonises, without detracting from the responsibility that I have to act under circumstances that are not of my choosing nor of my preference.
Finding that balance, in many ways, embellishes the purpose of life. In fact, without it, there can be no purpose worth pursuing.