A good friend of mine recently wrote a blog post about the distinction between your role and your calling. This is an important distinction and a good read, you can find it here. The post got me thinking about how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day actions we perform, the busyness and the maintenance of our lives, and forget to live.
I have two young children. If you want to talk about being caught up in the moment look to someone with children. Interestingly, being “caught up in the moment” and “living in the moment” are two distinctly different activities. I like the idea of living in the moment, but I can’t resist making plans. I typically have something that I want to be doing. Yet with two children around, with needs and plans of their own, my plans don’t always mesh with what reality has in store for me.
Out of this rises a dissatisfaction with the disconnect between what I want to be doing and the demands that my life puts on me. I suppose part of my frustration and dissatisfaction comes from a separation from what I enjoy versus what I’m doing. I’m not a huge fan of daily maintenance such as diaper changes. Then we get into my role, as primary bread winner for the family, this requires me to make plans regarding how to earn this money and keep that money coming in. Then there is the ego portion of planning, this tells me that what I had planned is much more important that what someone else is trying to do.
The truth is I don’t hate doing diapers that much. Sure I’d like it if my little one didn’t scream when being cleaned up, but where there is a strong willed child there is a future empowered adult, so I’m trying to embrace this. The truth is that I am caught up in the gap between what I feel my mission is in this world and what my daily life demands of me. This gap manifests as a disconnect between my daily actions and what I perceive as my plans in life.
Interestingly one of my plans in life is to have children… Which I now have… And this sometimes leads me to ask “What was I thinking?”… In fact what I was thinking good thoughts, and still am, most of the time. I wanted to enrich my life with the wonder of a child’s lifecycle and learning as they learn and seeing through their eyes. Not to mention that whole underlaying biological drive to reproduce and pass on your ideas to preserve for future generations (my ego digs this). I really wanted to connect in to all these moments of wonder and experiences and growth. I had no idea what I was asking for. Like all things in life, the reality of the thing does not meet the expectation of the thing. Having children is both far worse that I thought it would be and far more wonderful.
So to my point. How do we separate meaning, the why we are here, from the action, what we do while we are here?
How do we make sure we’re living the life we need to, to have the experience we are meant to?
The short and simple answer that helps me sleep at night, is that we don’t.
You don’t need to do anything. You are having exactly the experience you need to be having to enable your life to have the meaning it is meant to have.
So perhaps the greatest lesson you can learn, is the lesson of acceptance that all is as it should be.
For example, it has come to my attention that I am not a patient person. When I’ve decided I need or want something, the need becomes immediate and pressing. I like finding the solution and jumping to the end. Yet life is all about the steps in the middle. My children are a perfect illustration of this. Do I want fully developed 20 year old children that I don’t have to nurture and care for? Do I want to skip the whole experience of watching them grow up and helping them as they do? No, of course not. I should not expect the experience to be any different than it is. And the action of this experience and my reactions to the experience have lead me to the conclusion that I may need to practice a little more patience. The experience is exactly as it should be. It is my rejection of the experience and illusion, that it should be other than it is, that causes the dissatisfaction and tension.
So my main words if wisdom, if I have any at all, would be to not worry about your meaning. Don’t allow your quest for meaning to damage your experience or impede your actions. Your actions will be what is required of you.
Allow these actions to be your meditation.
Take each moment as a lesson. But you won’t always know what lesson it is until years down the road.
Embrace the joy of today, it’s all we have.
Make plans and allow them to fall apart.
Love those around you.
Find peace and share it with those around you. Meaning will come, when it is needed.