Life planning is really a first world problem, isn’t it? At least it seems that way to me. It feels so self indulgent. On the one hand it does seem important to discover what your gifts are and to share them with the world, but to get all angsty about it while so many people in this world have the simple goal of not starving to death or getting bombed before nightfall, seems like a mix-up of priorities.
One of the ways of reconciling these thoughts, is to find a way to use your gifts in service. Perhaps if more people did that, there might be less starvation and bombing. Maybe.
I have been doing some research in the past few months about goal planning, and finding your meaning in life. It seems every few years I hit a point where I realize my life is okay, but there are parts (job, some relationships) that always seem stalled and I can never figure out what to do to improve things. I always end up not really finding a way to move ahead, so I just accept the status quo until the nagging feeling starts again.
As I was writing this, I remembered a book I bought for my father when he was about the same age I am now. He had recently had a heart attack and had a triple bypass. No man in his family had lived past the age of 50 and he was 50 when he had the heart attack. But he did survive, in fact, for another 34 years. He had always been sure that he would not live past 50 so he seemed a little unsure about this next part of his life. I bought him a copy of Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece. It’s a story of a pie-shaped creature with a wedge missing (not unlike a PacMan), who sets out to find this “missing piece.” Along the way he meets other creatures and talks with them about his mission and he sees new things. Then one day he finds his missing piece and he becomes a full circle and begins to roll and he rolls so fast, he can no longer stop to meet new creatures or see anything. He finally comes to a stop and removes the piece. He then begins his slow roll away from it singing his song about looking for his missing piece.
My father did not understand what the book meant (if you haven’t read it, I’m afraid you may not understand from my brief restating, either). I explained to him that life wasn’t about arriving at your destination, but about the journey you take on the way. I think it took a few more years before that message truly resonated with him. His generation was all about achieving the American Dream and as the son of Russian immigrants, I think he felt that more keenly.
Now I look back – in my 20’s I thought I understood the message, but did I live it? I’m not sure. I don’t have regrets for the choices I have made. I don’t believe in that. I know I did what I thought was the right thing at the time and even choices I have made that ultimately did not work out, gave me new skills and experience to move on to something else. I have a “good” life. I love my husband. I have a job that pays my bills, but it is a vocation, not an avocation. I have very good friends who challenge me and love me. I have wonderful step-children and the best grandchildren ever. But those bits that don’t work still lurk in the back of my mind and talk at me while I try to sleep. I don’t expect a perfect life, but I do feel like I’m missing something I could be doing to make at least my part of the world a better place.
So because the only thing more self indulgent than this journey to create this new part of my life was to start a blog, here I am.