It is not what I can consume but what I leave behind which is significant. Achievement is not what I manage to collect for myself, but what I can provide as a result of my efforts. At the end of it all the true test will be what impact I had on my social environment and on the world in general.
A parasitic attitude of selfish acquiring, drains the pool of sharing. Consumerism depletes the resources that were meant for the general good for all. Before you can even start to ask the question; “What is my purpose in life?”, you need to make it out for yourself what you want to leave behind.
A decision about one’s own legacy provides a focus on your ambition. Then, every aspect of life becomes a driver towards meaningfulness. A suitable starting point would be to formulate a “legacy-will” towards which, one can live purposefully.
Who I am, is determined by my past. Whether the memories of my past are good or worth forgetting. I am either what I am now because of the past or despite there of. That depends on how I dealt with the issues that crossed my path.
One thing though which we cannot change is that my “now” depends on whether I managed to leave behind the insignificant things. Those I cannot change or influence.
“Forgiveness is the only way to free ourselves from the entrapment of the past” said a wise man once (Richard Röhr). The pains of the past stick in our being and are very difficult to let go. But letting go of negative and painful memories allows growth. It is the only way we can define ourselves by the present moment. I cannot be defined by my failures of the past. What I am now is who I really am.
Growth has to do with the creation of options. Once you run out of choices, there’s not much to live for any longer. Functional and happy people are those who manage to create options in life. This ability is embedded in the human DNA and it is one of the skills that separate us from the other creatures we share our world with.
But unlike other natural abilities, this is one, when neglected, it fades into obscurity.
There are mainly two ways of ensuring progression in this area. The first being the constant development of the number of skills you have. While keeping those you possess active, learn something new every year. The increase of abilities is direct proportionate to the number of options you have in life.
The second is to develop an eye for the gap. The skill to see an opportunity needs to be trained and nurtured.
Having options put one in a position of power, the power of choice.
Life without risks is nothing different than unconsciousness. To “run into danger” would sound foolish, yet in it’s original form this is what it means. One of the first discoveries every young human make, is that without risk there’s no growth. The first effort to crawl, to take the first step is filled with danger. Overcoming that fear induces development. We learn quickly that all the new experiences in life are challenges to our equilibrium and comfort we nonetheless engage them without hesitation.
As we grow up we tend to lose that inclination to risk-taking as we curl up in our comfortable existence. We convince ourselves that life should be as uncomplicated and plain sailing as possible. That is when mediocrity and complacency sets in and any possibility of growth evaporate.
The older one gets, the more you need to force yourself to take risks. Discover new experiences, develop new skills and read something outside your interest or expertise. Overcome the fear of stepping out of the known and the ordinary. Grow to become more you.
I am, because we are. “Ubuntu” is the African word for describing the essence of co-existence and the importance of my own position in society. Although my own place in humanity is largely defined by the group I find myself in, my value is determined by myself.
The position I occupy does not establish my worth. The influence I have on my environment does. That is the reason why statues are only built for people who influenced society. Usually having to go against the flow of the usual. Not allowing the way of least resistance to direct their actions.
Standing alone amongst my peers and facing the challenge of the strong current of opposing the institutionalized wrongs that will define me. That is why no statues are built for people who had an easy life.
Whistleblowing is not seen as a virtue among those who have vested interests in mediocrity and the iniquitous.
My attitude towards my own purpose should then rather be: “We are because I am”.
Call it Utopia, Paradise or any other name. It remains the ultimate dream of society. An imaginary place of perfection in all social systems. The irony lies in the word “Utopia” itself. Literally it means “nowhere”. In the mind of most people the concept of a perfect world lies outside and beyond what we know in this life, so it can only be possible in a place and time on the “other side”.
If that is your belief, you have accepted the brokenness of this world as your destiny. Then you gave up on good, well and contentment.Utopia is not a destination, it’s a direction. Even if my influence is limited and does not allow me to change the world, I can at least direct my own life. Living in the direction of perfection allows me to alter my own little world.
Amidst a chaotic and uncomfortable space, my drive is to build a bubble of happiness where I make the rules I live by. I will not allow the negative environment to dictate my quality of life. I will not allow my lack of resources to set the level of joy. I will find my Utopia in my relationship with the important people in my life. So, Utopia is not “nowhere”, it is “everywhere”. A borderless paradise.