I did it again. I lost track of purpose, of plan. I fell off the face of the earth and into the world of worthless novels and TV series. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been living—at least not living in a way that I can respect myself for. Sure. I’m alive, and 24 hours is still 24 hours, but I’ve ceased to learn, ceased to grow. I’ve stagnated. I’ve stopped working towards bettering myself for the sake of bettering my community. I’ve become selfish and insular. This blog post isn’t about berating myself or beating myself up. Instead, it’s a post about awareness. In order to live a life worth living, one must be aware of the world in which one lives, and have a belief that a better future is possible. It’s about stepping outside oneself and recognizing that through improvement of self, we can help improve the world around us. New skills and abilities allow us to serve in new ways. New writings and readings allow us to learn, when we are willing to take the time to read the works that are edifying instead of burying our heads in a perpetual world of fantasy. There is nothing wrong with a wee bit of escapism, but the trick is to not get caught up in it. Sadly, it’s a moderation that I’m not terribly good at. It’s funny, the saying goes “everything in moderation,” and while most people would agree with that phrase, most of us aren’t terribly good at living it out. We live in a society that doesn’t respect moderation. It respects capitalism and commercialism. It respects materialism and the ever increasing desire for more. It respects the pursuit of pleasure to the point of sacrificing that which is right and good, but not necessarily easy. It is what has led to our cultural malaise. After all, if all you have to care about is you, and your own enjoyment of life, and you get a group of these people together, you create a society of egotism and nihilism.
I feel like I’ve written this blog post many times over, and yet I find myself needing to hear the message again. I’m a slow learner. Maybe you are too. So this post is for all the slow learners out there.
One thing I am relearning is that the greatest gratification in life comes from hard work resulting in the creation of a good thing. Whether that be increasing knowledge by reading a book on the bus—this morning I started a book called Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology—or finally getting a start on that novel you’ve been thinking about writing for the last decade. The book I started reading is so far from anything I’ve read in the recent past, that I find myself needing to break periodically to process. Yet I believe it to be worthwhile, and so I read it. I got up and cleaned my apartment this morning. I planned the next few sessions of a fledgling group of people who want to learn more about the opportunities and challenges that face us locally and globally. I’ve started contacting potential presenters for this session. And it’s only shortly past noon. What would life look like if I used my time in such a responsible and edifying manner all the time? It would be one heck of a life, to be sure.
But it’s not enough to maintain intellect. We’ve been given brains, but we’ve also been given bodies, which when taken care of, can do truly amazing things. So what does that mean for me? It means walking more and sitting less. It means hitting the gym again, not because I want to lose weight or look better, but because it will enable me to experience God’s creation in a fuller way. It means making better food choices, because I only have one body and it needs to last for as long as I need it. It needs to last until my work here on earth is done. It means eating less. We need to recognize the fact that we live in a glutinous culture. We glut ourselves on food and stuff in general. But if we want our bodies to operate as they should, we need to stop focusing on food as entertainment, and start recognizing that food can be delicious, but it is also the fuel of your body and needs to have a certain amount of respect attached to it, not worship and not indifference, but an intentionality in what we eat and how much of it we ingest.
Now that we’ve covered the mental and the physical, we come to the last of the famous trio—the spiritual. All three of these are intrinsically linked in living a good life—a life of purpose. How can we recognize the need to use our mental and physical selves in a positive way if we don’t develop the spiritual as well. After all, faith and God give us guidance in day-to-day life. Humans learn their ways based on that which is around them, based on the examples they see. If I have to base my life on a mentor, who better than Christ? Thus, it is important to submerge oneself in regular prayer and reading of scripture. But that is not enough. We need to then take time to reflect on what we have read and how it should impact the way we live. We need to be intentional when it comes to faith, making it a lifestyle priority. And then we need to share our lives of faith with those who are on the same journey. As humans, we’re made to be social creatures, and if we model our lives after that of Christ, we’ll see a constant call to community—to living and learning together.
Goodness, that seems like a lot of stuff to do! Some days it seems to be too much. But at the end of the day, that is what creates a full life. Too much? No, just enough. If it seems to be too much, maybe it’s time to examine your life and re-prioritize. Maybe it’s time to step outside yourself and examine your life as if you were a stranger. Where do you see the good? Where do you see a need for change? Once you’ve done that, you can start moving towards a life that is enough—towards a life of purpose and truth.