It is absolutely amazing to me, the passage of time. One moment I’m in high school, playing basketball. The next, I’m married – for two and a half years! I have two businesses and a passionate hobby, which I sure wish would make some money somewhere along the way.
I have a wife who loves me, despite my flaky brain, despite my confusion about life, despite my lack of direction.
I have a brother who is getting married in a week and a half, to a wonderful woman who will hopefully love him as my wife loves me.
I open my eyes and look around me, and I see confused and unhappy people. I see people locked into a life unaware of how the heck they got there. I see people beaten down by the “realities” of this world.
I put on my glasses, and I see people who LOVE their life. Who have a solid marriage, and wonderful families. Who have friends that have passed the tests of fire that are the proving grounds of all REAL friendships. I see people who actually like their jobs, and know that they are making a difference. I see people who make the world a better place, every single day, simply by being alive.
I look around, and I realize that whatever limitations society drills into us, what REALLY matters is how we LET ourselves be limited. We all fit into a box, regardless of our walk in life, our faith, our relationships, our upbringing, our culture – and that box is the box that we believe we are in.
What if we could just decide not to live in those boxes any more? What possibilities would open up before our eyes? Where would our HEARTS take us, if our brains didn’t limit our accomplishments, our courage, and our soul? What if we could say “THIS is who I am, and THIS is how I want to live, and nothing is going to stand in my way” – and then to have things come together that way?
I’m not saying this is possible. There are very real limitations to life, like the requirements of eating, and sleeping, and surviving. But perhaps it’s time to look at our options differently. Would we be happier living with less money, and less material wealth? Could we have a job doing something we really wanted to do if we would be willing to step out and take a risk and make it happen? What if we were able to say “$%(*$%(*#$%(* THIS!” – and move on?
I read an article a while back about a couple that gave up everything they had to live in the country and make soap. If you know me personally, this might be a note of humor for you, seeing as how I (along with my wife Janene and mom-in-law Esther) have a business making soap, and I’d give my left … nevermind … to move out into the country and away from the insane life of the city. Anyway, this couple was doing quite well, and were on their way “up” – according to the standards that seem to be pretty much universally accepted in America for success. The problem? They weren’t happy. Their heart chords were not being played; their souls were restless and out of touch with their lives. They gave up their careers, their security, and everything they knew – to live a life of close to paycheck-to-paycheck existence – doing something they loved.
How refreshing! How inspiring! What they found, I believe, is what so many search for their entire lives without finding – and that is true freedom. Freedom from material lusts. Freedom from the stress of a pace of life that I believe will lead to earlier and earlier deaths in our society. Freedom from the unhappy grind they found themselves in. What did they REALLY give up, in contrast to what they gained? I may never know, in their case, since I just read about them.
But having examined myself, I have finally figured out a few things about life, I think.
I know that my happiest moments are when friends and family are around, and having fun or working together. I know that I am happy dreaming things into existance, and working to make them a reality. I know that I dream of living a life in the country, and working from my home, with my family. I know that have yet to find a “traditional” job that fulfilled my need to be a part of something important, and that I have yet to be happy in any “traditional” job that I have held. I know that I have friends who will always be there for me. I know that I have family that will always love me. I know that I am a total screw up, but that God still accepts me and tells me that it’s ok – again. I know that I am going to Heaven when I die. I know that I need to leave this earth in a better place then when I found it. I know that I take risks – and I am ok with that. I know that I look at life differently, but I believe that makes me a stronger person. I know that I am creative, and technical, and people oriented, and that I can do anything I believe I can do.
What do you believe? Who are you? Are you happy? What have you sacrificed for your job, your life, your toys? Was it worth it? Was your marriage, or your self respect, or your health, or your inner child, or you sense of wonder, or your sense of worth, or you faith – was it worth it, the path that you chose? Do you even KNOW what the cost has been?
I would encourage everyone to think outside the box. Ask yourself the question “If I could do anything, be anybody, build anything, go anywhere – what would my choices be?” – and then ask yourself what’s holding you back.
Is it money? If it is, how are you spending your money? Is your house too big? Do you eat out too much? Do you have a ridiculously expensive car? Stop making excuses! There are excuses for EVERYTHING. You will only free yourself if you STOP making excuses and take some responsibility for your life. Take OWNERSHIP of your decisions. Sell your house, buy something smaller that will allow you to save your money. You don’t REALLY need that new TV / Computer / Car / Camera / Boat / Bike …. Every time you see something that you just “have to have” – remember your answer to that question – and weigh the options. If you HAVE to spend money, set up a bank account – in a totally different bank from your regular account – and every time you feel the urge to spend money, put that amount (don’t forget taxes!) into your seperate account.
Is it time? If it is, how are you spending it? Are you discouraged, as I often get, over the amount of time that you work? Look at your choices! I work now because what I am doing I firmly believe will allow me to live the kind of life I want to live – in the country, with my family. And I know that this is temporary, and it will pass. But it may be different for you – if it is, think about taking a risk and doing what you’ve always wanted to do! Research it – what will it take? Work towards that goal, and realize that for every problem there are infinite solutions – if one doesn’t work (to quote a GREAT book called “The Art of Possibility”) – well then, “How Fascinating!” – try another!
Is it kids? If it is, ask yourself how you can serve THEIR interests best, before your own. Is there still room to make changes to your life so that you can be happy, and so that you can pursue your dreams? Kids are an AWESOME responsibility, and once you have accepted that responsibility it is imparitive that you live up to it – everything that you do, you should do that they might have a chance at living the life that they dream of. Encourage them, teach them, and love them.
Is it where you live? Where you work? All these things can be changed! The greatest adversary to change is fear. The greatest cause of failure for change is lack of flexibility – if you want it bad enough, if you can look at what will be sacrificed and determine that it’s worth it, you can find a way.