Hi I’m Vera, and I’m a list lover. Yup. Totally addicted… to making them, following them, ticking items off of them. There’s no shame, is there, in being a list lover? Lists are helpful. Making a list is a tidy and convenient way to organize, well, a lot of things… There’s the:
- The To Do list (doesn’t it feel great when you cross something off as ‘done’?
- The Shopping list (how else do you know what to buy?)
- The Pro/Con list (need to make a decision? This list is a must)
- The Packing List (what to take when you are travelling)
- The Moving List (long, complicated, multi-segmented – been there, done that, when I moved 5 years ago).
I could go on, but if you’re a list lover, then ‘nough said. If not, well, I’m sure you have other addictive behaviours to contend with (sorry for ending with a preposition).
The reason I got onto this topic – believe it or not – was when I read an article on HuffPost (Feb. 4, 2014 online edition) written by an actress I admire – Jamie Lee Curtis. Her simple but powerful piece offered sympathy – to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s family after his drug-related death; as well as to the many other families plagued by this disease. More poignantly, it included her admission to being 15 years sober from a prescription drug and alcohol addiction. Another online article stated that Mr. Hoffman had been clean for 23 years before relapsing, ultimately, fatally. How very very sad.
I started mentally considering the many people over the years whose lives were cut short by unsuccessful wrestling with their demons. Not just celebrities, but people in my family, former school mates and ex-colleagues. The different kinds of pain that ead a person along those dark paths.
Reading Ms. Curtis’ article made me think of fellow blogger Beth Byrnes’ insightful blog post (http://byrnesbeth.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/ab-k-nox-ious-opinions/).
Being the tangential thinker that I am, I got to thinking about the challenges of modern day life. We who live in the land of plenty – North America – who have everything we need, and often more than we need. Why are so many of us destroying themselves – with drugs, booze, food and unhealthy relationships? Why is teenage suicide so rampant? Why do people living in large cities struggle with loneliness? What drives this self-destructive behaviour?
That’s just a short list of questions that come to mind. But these are problems with no clear solutions. I think what it boils down to is that we are lost. Floundering in meaninglessness. Where can we turn to get the answer to the only question that really matters? “What on Earth am I here for?”
In case you don’t know, that’s the title of Rick Warren’s updated version of The Purpose Driven Life, a book he wrote in 2002 and which has sold 32 million copies to date. My Women’s Monday Night Group is studying this book, with its 6 teaching videos, group discussion questions, a workbook, and more. We just had our second meeting this past Monday and it’s already been an eye opener. I have worked through PDL three times already, and I’m ashamed to say I have not changed – or grown – as much as an enlightened Christ-follower should. But I am working on it – or should I say God is working on me, and thankfully, He is patient. As the book reminds us, life is a temporary assignment, and this life is preparation for the next.
There are many religions and philosophies and spiritual or mystic practices out there which are more sophisticated variations on what used to be called “navel gazing” back in the 1960s. That was before my time, but I have an aunt 12 years my senior who grew up in the Age of Aquarius, so I had a bit of a taste. As an introvert, I tend to be introspective. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I was curious about psychology – the whys behind the whats of human behaviour. In my early 30s, Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love” was my bible.
But for all my seeking, reading, learning, trying, I was never satisfied. There were no real answers to that question that we all ask, at one time or another: what is the meaning of life, human life, on earth?
If you are brave enough or curious enough, I urge you to read The Purpose Driven Life, or the newer “What on Earth am I here for?” As Bertrand Russell, philosopher and atheist, noted “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”
What does Rick Warren have to say about this? He takes 42 days to tell you, but he begins with the most simple and obvious truth: It’s not about you.
This is the most important topic of all, Vera. Thank you for posting on it.
I have read Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. I like him, I think he is sincere, and naturally, he couches this journey through Christianity. We can just turn to the Bible for a similar answer: our purpose is to know, love, and serve God, as truly and quickly as possible, given our short earthly tenure. But that is a profound idea. We can understand it at our level, as Christ gave us the parables at our primitive level so we could understand some of his message. But we have to evolve to a higher state of knowing before we can understand it, God, Christ, ourselves deeply. Christ gave us cooked food. He held back the raw until we are ready.
Most people don’t want to know themselves. It means facing the truth instead of the convenient lies we tell ourselves based on our preferences (and early conditioning by others). The truth is hard but it is the only way to wake up. We are unlikely to have an epiphany in our lifetime. So all we can do is continually observe ourselves, as objectively as possible, peeling back the masks of self-deception and try to follow Christ’s word and example, while we do it.
I made it my personal commitment never to anesthetize myself with anything, whether it be money, food, drugs, power, alcohol, nicotine, gambling or useless diversions. Nothing. If I cannot find calm and peace without crutches, they are false states and therefore will not further my development. It is difficult, but it is the only worthwhile goal in life, in my opinion. We are only here for 80-odd years. We cannot afford to waste a minute on false paths, imho.
You make some valid points Beth. I have long believed the adage ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’. A former self-help book addict, I found PDL to be a useful alternative for Christians. Like any book, it’s not enough just to read it, we must apply it. Be doers of the word, not just hearers, the Bible tells us. I press on in that regard and I know it pleases God.
Am swamped with a work project this morning but eager to read your post, too!