It is not by accident that we have become who we are. That’s not good orbad, right or wrong … it’s just a fact of life. Great time and effort goes into moldingand shaping who we are … and who we believe ourselves to be capable of becoming. Withoutthat awareness, we might actually think that what we perceive as our ‘limitations’ arereal as opposed to the illusions that have been created through structure and repetition.Footsteps in the dances that have been dancing us for most of our lives.
We have busy lives! They do not easily lend themselves to being pondered,nor do they easily invite nor tolerate scrutiny. We are far too focused on what we need todo; the limitations of time and money; and juggling these two requirements to the best ofour ability, hoping to produce the desired, acceptable and applauded outcome. And yet, wewonder …
As a process, my story is not much different from yours. Of course, thedetails (the content) will vary, giving us what we can lay claim to as our individualitybut the process (the context) is frighteningly similar.
These are the rules: grow up, get an education, get a job. Know the rulesand follow them. If you want to get ahead in life, learn the game better than anyone elseand be The Star! Keep your head down and your mouth shut. Don’t make waves; don’t irritateauthority; and whatever you do, don’t be too different … that will get you being noticedin a way that you’ll likely regret.
The combination of growing up in our families – followed by our preferredreligious training, supplemented by our educational system and rewarded by our corporatesystems – allows one structure, with its rules and regulations, to be overlaid on the nextand the next until we no longer even notice that it is, indeed, a recipe for what we wouldcall ‘normal’.
All along the way, we are encouraged to see the ‘rightness’ of this way… and to not see the often mind-numbing repetitiveness … the homogeneity … the powerof the lowest common denominator that keeps this all in place. Given the limitations ofthese prospects, is there any wonder that we use the standards of acquisition to measureour movement through such constraints?
It may not make us happy, but it does make us predictable. We all begin tosound alike, look alike, dress alike. We come to share values, beliefs and attitudes. Wecome to want the same things (at least, in our heads if not in the pit of our stomachs)and even becoming willing to compete for them, if that’s what it takes. The reward systemto keep our movement in check is much easier to anticipate when we have become predictablein our choices. Were we to be unpredictable … were we to think as individuals ratherthan as a molded collective … we would be very difficult to read, and to manage, and tocontrol.
The notion of ‘balance’ in our lives is one that has become tied to thenotion of ‘control’. If my life is in ‘balance’, then I am in control. If my life is’unbalanced’, then it is chaotic and I am out of control. Life moves from its ‘reasonable’deviations from the flat line of its expression to frequent and erratic twists and turns,with high, sharp peaks and deep valleys. Perhaps we have become far too eager to have ourlives reflect the printout of a heart monitor.
We have been trained to want things, but do we really want them? We havebeen trained to think in certain ways … hold certain beliefs … and accommodatecertain values. But do they really matter to us … or are they the vestiges of anothertime? We have been encouraged to create bigger and better and faster and more … and yet,do we want it and do we want to do what it takes to maintain it? In our headlong rush intoopulence, we’ve created lifestyles with voracious appetites. Perhaps we’ve not noticedthat we’ve moved from being the sophisticated diner to becoming the main course.
What we have learned, we can unlearn … and replace with new information.But that is moving too far, too fast. For now, there is nothing to give up … nothing tolet go of … nothing to eliminate. There is only the invitation to pay attention andbegin to notice what you’ve created in your life. Notice if what you have is what youreally want … if it nourishes you and energizes you and feeds your soul. Notice if youlook forward to getting out of bed every morning and, once again, stepping into your life.Notice if you can remember how to breathe … long and deep and slow … with your bodyrewarding you with health and ease of movement. Notice if you end your day with a sense ofwell being and a welcome fatigue, ready to sleep easily, dream deeply and know that youhave lived well.
Every journey begins with the first step. The first step to creating alife of health, vitality and joy is to pay attention to the one you already have and askyourself three simple questions:
1) Is this my life or someone else’s? Am I living the life that I’ve chosen (by design) or am I living the life that I’ve been conditioned to think that I should (by default)?
2) If I continue to live my life this way, when I look down the road … one year, two years, five years … will I be able to look back and feel a sense of integrity and honor at what I have created?
3) When I get up in the morning and come face-to-face with myself, do I like who I’ve become? Am I a living model of the very things that I say are important in my life? Am I the example that I would want my children to follow?
Your answers are neither right nor wrong … they are just signposts inthe journey of your life. Are you enjoying the trip?