I am by no means an extraordinary person, relatively speaking, I have an average life, with an average means of income. I have had average problems and deal with them in average ways yet I have always wanted more out of the life I have previously led. I did not seek employment that would make me wealthy, I did not seek fame or surrounded myself with possessions. Since I could not sustain that kind of lifestyle even if I could have achieved those kinds of pursuits; I was too preoccupied in just trying to manage what I was allowed to hold on to since much of my material assets were calculated and taken from me by a court order in the aftermath of my divorce. The want for more in life was not about the pursuits listed above in as much as they were about bringing me some peace of mind.
To rise above the monotonous everyday routines and to question what is truly of value, I must search within myself to find out these answers. This thought has visited me within different periods through-out my entire life; knowing that I wanted more out of life than what I had seen growing up. The world is full of wonders and is very beautiful, but it can also be very grotesque. I do not speak of being a monk, or speak of negating what is pleasurable in life; I only find that for me, some of these pursuits do not provide me with satisfaction, they do not quench my thirst and do not sustain my attention for whatever seems to be holding my soul in captivity.
If you have been witness to a multitude of circumstances, then you have a better perspective than the many with whom only share a smaller limited perspective. I wanted to align my life in agreement to some of the teachings I had gravitated toward early on as a young adolescent and as a young adult. I set out to find answers so instead of preparing for a job quest in college, I went on a wisdom quest. It was by no means an easy path to pursue, and I for the most part only saw latent rewards for this pursuit. Obviously one must work to sustain themselves, one must navigate the social realms and live amongst others, and do much of what society dictates, because that is the expectation we have grown up with. For many this may just be fine, and they seem to be content, but unfortunately it is not the case for me.
I do not differ from others in many ways, I do not pretend that I am that much different from them as well, but I do see differences in how people have treated one another for as long as I can remember. Why this happens to be the case is beyond my imagining. It seems to be the essential core of my perplexity.
In retrospect I have given immensely of myself to those who probably did not deserve it. My naiveté did not diminish until I was much older. When you give of yourself, and are taken advantage of, though it is painful, it is also a great teacher of the human condition. When you get beyond the paltriness of human interactions, you see into a fragility of the human heart and the social decay of an inferior person. Why moral turpitude is such a prevalent factor in life is only a testament to the condition of our social inequity and the lack of educated citizens that fail to learn the lessons from its etiquette. This human plight has been around for millennium. This is precisely why the Zhou Dynasty in China adopted the Confucian teachings to subdue the existent rifts of social decline in China in the Spring and Autumn period of that dynasty (roughly between 771-479 BCE).
A time when the established system could not meet the demand of development as the ruling classes of China experienced the transition from a slave to feudalistic society the powers that be actively sought out a school of thought to adopt as a cultural unification. It was a time of “the collapse of etiquette and the deterioration of music”, which implies the ethics and moralities of society were in decline. The intellectuals of the day were concerned about the future mode of society, hence the most brilliant contention of a hundred schools of thought, such as Legalist, Taoist, and Confucian schools would be considered for the task.
Confucianism is an ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (孔夫子 Kǒng Fūzǐ, or K’ung-fu-tzu, literally: “Master Kong”, 551–479 BCE). Confucianism originated as an “ethical-sociopolitical teaching”, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han Dynasty. Following the official abandonment of Legalism in China after the Qin Dynasty, Confucianism became the official state ideology of the Han. Nonetheless, since the Han period on, most Chinese emperors used a mix of Legalism and Confucianism as their ruling doctrine, often with the latter embellishing the former. In other words, Confucian values were used to sugarcoat the harsh Legalist ideas that underlie the Imperial system. The disintegration of the Han in the second century CE opened the way for the spiritual and otherworldly doctrines of Buddhism and Taoism to dominate intellectual life at that time.
The experience of injustice is not something new in human history as we have seen. In my experience in providing for others, the toil of my labors, and the financial sacrifices I made to make a better life is something I am proud of, yet the devil is in the details of this story. After the divorce, my life ensued a series of challenges with child custody, lawyers and legal fees, and sadly parental alienation. I again dreamed of aligning my intellectual and spiritual self trying to educate myself in accordance. I have reached some goals I have set out for in my life, and I have yet to meet some of them.
I built a life around my values, and I am proud of what I have accomplished yet I have only scratched the surface on what I would like to achieve in my lifetime. After working so many hours in my life I have come to realize that though work is good, it is not the end goal in one’s life. Work teaches us many disciplines, but one cannot be happy unless they make the work they do matter, or put another way, if they enjoy the work they do, then they will lead a happier life, and if their work is meaningful to them, then in this way our work can be an appropriate end.
I have fallen in the traps that many others have succumbed to along the paths we take. The Muse’s of my day have chanted their sirens song, and their melody’s have left me in bewilderment until I awoke from the daze. I have taken the advise of those oracles which of whom I should not have listened to and thus have learned alternative ways to manage my time, efforts, and affairs. I have believed in a career choice that turned out to be less than what was promised, and sacrificed much of my health, wealth, and leisure to fund my families needs. The children are now grown and have only obligations to find a life that I can become excited about. This makes me envision that now is the time for me to project me closer to my new-found dream. This is a time for me to follow another road.
I have learned that people are good when the least you expect it, as well as bad when the least you expect it. Some of the greatest joys come from fatherhood, as well as some of the most painful heartaches. I have come close to death several times in my life, but I’ve somehow managed to survive which leads me to ask why am I here? Is it that I have a purpose yet unfulfilled on this earth? Is there some destiny that I have not yet realized? Have I not perished because there is some undone work I am to do?
I may never know, yet I continue my journey for discovery. Is it that I quest for a purpose not yet realized? Am I trying to fill some empty void within myself? The hunger for knowledge, and wisdom has always been with me. Maybe because I come from very modest means, and that I wanted to climb higher to new plateaus of understanding.
Whichever the reasons my so-called soul-searching is a part of me. It is as much of me as my devotion to those with whom I love. So I guess I am destined to seek. I do not know when I may find that moment of peace, or that pearl of wisdom that will set my mind at ease, but I can certainly say I look forward to the journey. I want to never loose my curiosity, and never to have my mind become anesthetized by boredom or folly.