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.
Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.
I thought about how I would be remembered when I pass from this life. How my family would remember me, and how my friends would remember me.
I was watching a podcast on actor Andrew McCarthy, as he was discussing his new book “The Longest Way Home- One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down”. He spoke about his personality, and how he came to be a writer. Intrigued I purchased and read the book. He talked about his travels and how he seems to feel more comfortable in his skin the farther he is away from his home. He said that when he travels, the destination is really not about where he is going, but rather traveling allows him to simultaneously find a destination within himself that is brought out from the traveling. It is not so much where the destination is, but rather what the destination does to him inside that counts. I was surprised to find that after listening to him, we seem to share similar approaches in dealing with the world. He was speaking about some of the issues with intimacy he has struggled with in his life. A quest I have sought in the time of my continuance on this earth.
I think that at times the further I was out of my comfort zone in life, the more I was able to allow an uninhibited experience and project a truer form of my self, without the subterfuge the ego often interposes. The meanings that we come to understand this world; however beautiful and lovely, or however cruel and unkind the world may be is ultimately a decision that is up to us. Long ago I came to conclude and deduce that on some levels we are ultimately alone in the universe, and that it is up to our own reckoning of our experience on how we should act and live our lives. To some degree I still believe this, but as I age and the more I study, I see other degrees of understanding that just might complicate this premise. Of course it all depends on the information you immerse yourself in, but I will usually derive the foundation of my education in a “common sense” basis, ergo using pragmatic approaches to the world as cited by the likes of John Dewey, or Confucius. Ruefully others who approach the world without any intelligence and understanding using the aforementioned premise: are destined to shape attitudes from others around them unleashing their unapologetic and narcissistic egos on the world.
Sadly yet understandably many of us become cynical, embittered, and even hostile to the ignorance and aggressive acts that others impose upon us who happen to share our collective environment. The manifestations of our behavior may touch many people that we truly do not fully appreciate the length and breadth of this reach. We cannot of course be accountable for every nuance of our behavior that impacts others due to the interpretation and judgments of others sensibilities, but the principle of the premise argued here supports that we should be held accountable for our behavior in the world. Those that do not comprehend the scale of this notion are unaware, thoughtless, or in worst case scenarios: apathetic, and care nothing about their impact on others. I fear that these individuals have truly lost their way, and as Leo Buscaglia postulates the opposite of love is apathy and not hate as many may believe. Lacking any feeling about our way in the world, how we affect others, how we go about our business within our social provinces is probably the defining element that ails our society at large.
When Mother Teresa was asked if she needed help with money or fund-raising in a town she was visiting to see the opening of a shelter, she replied, no thanks, that there was nothing anyone could do for her since her cause was not about money, or publicity. When asked again if they could somehow do something to help, she replied….”If you really want to do something, wake up at 4am and go out on the streets and find someone living there that believes they are alone, and convince them they are not!”
I sometimes struggle to find an association with others that I greatly care about. I may have disappointment, or I have not understood them for either a lack of my comprehension, or for choices they have ultimately made without consideration of their loved ones. I too have shown an apathetic eye, (something I am not proud of), toward segments in the life I have known. I have tried to reconcile this to the best of my abilities by building better coping strategies, educating, and reinforcing my existing strengths. My combative blueprint for this disease of the soul provided me with an awareness that I have personally undertaken to qualm any exhibits within my behavior. The Me mentality seems to be a major contributor to the problem and once again sources back to the creation of ego.
I still find myself in dissension and often have issues with others that lack a citizenship our culture truly needs. My perceptions and observation usually give me a dose of cognitive dissonance when I leave my home and meet the world every day. I ask myself why do I let others impede my happiness? Why do I consider such circumstances, and why is my mind so prone to think about such pestiferous subjects? Am I arrogant in thinking that I do not take part in such behaviors that I find myself criticizing? I know I cannot expect the world to change its present course, but I can change my ability to cope with it. I can find the fortitude to compel myself to change my beliefs about those that I struggle to find peace with. I think I must have been disposed to finding such events by the way my mind works. It is a curse to me at times as I pontificate the matter at hand.
Finding my salvation lies within the power of my creation. I remember some years back as I progressed through higher levels of managerial positions; I took a battery of expensive psychological exams testing various attributes of my personality for my employer. Out of that experience I scored in the top 10 percentile of my company, and was told in my results evaluation that “I care for people!” Oddly I sometimes think this is a burden on me to this day, due to the amount of time I spend on how others feel, think, and rightly so since the current dominant mindset is to think only about one’s own best interests, or for that matter the company’s interests: the company’s should supersede the individuals. They may intend to do the right things, but often they politicize the handling of the communications to the employee’s, and the overall practice by the leadership through-out many companies do not show the values they subscribe.
The core values I have adopted contradict the thinking that we should infringe upon others, and I cannot find myself to render it with any credibility. I for one believe we have a moral obligation to one another. What those obligations are can be and are debated by many, but in my conviction, I have a long road ahead of me before I can find a resolution to this position.
How we are remembered is telling of how we led our lives, how we influenced and effected others, and how many people would miss us on our departure. I hope to be remembered in good light with my family and friends. I hope they do not remember me for my nutty verbalization about like dialogs, but more for that of the essence in my character. The ripples we create often cross great distances and have profound effects on those at times we least suspect. The ripples we create can and do have an impact on some of our closest unsuspecting family members, friends, and acquaintances. In the process of discovering my peeves to ignorance, I too send my ripples out to the world….One page at a time!