A Way To Guide Your Life

If we entertain a dose of self-honesty in query of our personal moments of quietus we can attest to a certainty lingering somewhere in our minds that death  for us – hovers at a time-distance; death will only come to us when we are say 100 years old. However, the truth is starkly different: None of us know how long we have to live.

The elusiveness of this truth induces us to spend our lives ignoring it. It breeds ground for a focus on the importance of striving for survival. But in our strive for survival it can become customary to miss the point of it. It can become customary to forego our sense of existence in attempts to grasp how we might sustain it. 

History suggests that this misguided tendency to forego our sense of existence in attempts to grasp how we might sustain it is far from new, and forebears of extraordinary intellectual, philosophical and spiritual capacity promulgated different versions of an idea useful in guiding our lives in the face of the deathly truth awaiting us all. They – think Jesus, think Mohammed, think Socrates – offered a form of the following piece of wisdom: Stop wasting time and start to appreciate existence. 

This idea is important for three of many reasons:

1. It Unveils The Important 

Here is a familiar scene: It's two hours past midnight. The tick-tock of the wall clock is now a loud ride against the backdrop of silence that envelops the darkness. Despite skillful attempts to will some sleep, the only manageable accomplishment has been a feat of tossing and turning. The mind has become slave to an unpleasant symphony of questions: What is the purpose of life? What is my purpose in life? How should I go about living life, with purpose? At the heart of concern is a desire for a sense of meaning, a sense that given the massiveness of the universe a deed exists which would point to, reveal, our significance. 

At moments as afore-described the response is rarely to pull appreciation from an occurrence within (and perhaps of) consciousness. We never go, "I am now having an existential crisis, thank God." Yet much of pulling meaning from living life has to do with a healthy devotion to the business of understanding it, appreciating it. To sift through details of consciousness in efforts to isolate bits which unveil the important. 
This was the position of Socrates – greek philosopher and shaper of the modern world: That a life worth living emerges from the pursuit of understanding, through exploration of our life. 

A healthy devotion to the business of understanding life rids the mind of fetters, burrowing through it to the core of consciousness. It creates space for groundedness, a sense that each one of us isn't a fixed entity awaiting discovery but a continuum of identity deserving of exploration. It is in systematic exploration of ourself and the ideas we get bombarded by through our exploration that we find truths worthy of keeping – even when such truths lie at the other end of questions which know no better time to arise than two hours past midnight

2. It Allows for a State of Mind Indispensable to Carrying Out Valuable Work

More often than we'd like the best option always seems to be to wait for the perfect time and the perfect conditions to meet us. It is only in waiting that inspiration will come, leading us into serendipitous outbursts which would put everything in its rightful place – a place of meaning before our time is up. 
We can blame anxiousness for our inclination towards this tendency. And if we are being honest we can blame fear. However, a brief appreciation of the quantity of the duration of our longest life, when set side by side against a cosmic clock stretching billions of years, can put the infinitesimal nature of our concerns in perspective. It brings to focus that sinking into a hollow sphere of fear-driven anxiety and waiting for aloft things like the inspiration which would align the universe for us is, as Mason Currey, Bestselling author of Daily Rituals, put rather bluntly, a waste of time. 

In search of how people churned out value Mason spent more than half a decade cataloging the lives of men and women of extraordinary creative achievement – Nobel Laureate, Putlizer Prize winners e.t.c.. Mason summed up what he calls the most important piece of advice from his findings in this quote: 
[...] I hope [my work] makes clear that waiting for inspiration to strike is a terrible, terrible plan. In fact, perhaps the single best piece of advice I can offer to anyone trying to do creative work is to ignore inspiration.
A valuable insight lurks at the centre of this advice: If we are to make headway in our lives we must let go of our hubristic tendency to believe we are going to be around in moments other than now, we must roll up our sleeves and work on outcomes we know deserve to be worked upon. One way to work "without inspiration" is to take cue from Novelist extraordinaire Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In response to the question where do you get inspiration, she said this:
I think [where do you get inspiration] is a lazy question. Everything is inspiration to me. I get inspiration from everywhere.
In short: Appreciate existence. 

Our proclivity towards waiting can be replaced with a healthy devotion to the business of appreciating life, because it sets us in the right mind useful to creating valuable work.

3. It Melts Away the Seductive Force of the Media

Our tendency to wait can be traced to an unlikely source: The media. Its insistence on picking only a fraction of what makes up the life of the accomplished and selling it with use of "overnight success" taglines insures that we remain uninformed and fixated on misguided things required to living a meaningful life. The result, more often that not, is finding ourself at the mercy of an induced sense that the meaningful life we seek can only be found within a circle of celebrities. 
Though admirable in their achievements, and a handful lead lives worthy of emulation, celebrities as we have them today are ill-equipped to offer us guidance to lead our own lives. More so because what we have as their stories in our heads represents only a fraction of what makes up the totality of their life. 

A better approach is one centered on the business of appreciating life, in the sense of understanding the nature, meaning, and quality of it.
Adopt a baby's disinterested approach to the media

Final Thoughts

If we entertain a dose of truth in query of our personal moments of quietus we can attest to knowledge that each of us knows nothing about how long we have to live. In alignment with a sentiment captured by Albert Einstein who said, "there are two ways to live: as if nothing is a miracle, or as if everything is a miracle," we can meet this truth not with existential confusion but with a devotion to the business of appreciating life. 
We can uncouple our desires for progress in our life from concerns arising in the form: If only I knew my purpose. In the end the saddest thing will be to lament: If only I had... We can get better at navigating the world before us so that in our journey to what lies within its meaning, its nature and its quality, we will come by the most important bit of all: A way to ourself. 



Post Author: P. W. Uduk 

Photo Source: i.imgur.com; s2.thingpic.com ; www.cdkn.org; www.wallpaperup.com 

Question of the week: What are your thoughts on thinking? Please let me know in the comments. 

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  1. This is great. Keep the ink following Sir Ubong

  2. just remembered, the Socratic dictum "man know thyself", there is a need for constant self rediscovery. thanks Paul for the write up

  3. This is awesome.
    I wish more people had this knowledge.


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