Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

Sunday musings New Year’s Day 2017: Purpose

Sunday musings…

Musing, whether today on my 56th New Years Day or on any other random Sunday, is an entirely different proposition when done in the presence of my 15 month old Man Cub. He takes up an awful lot of space for such a tiny little creature. I’ll give it my best…

This is not going to be just another whatever about making or keeping resolutions just because it happens to be the first day in a new year according to the Western calendar. Hit up that intellectual workout if you please, for sure, but that’s not where my head’s at right at the moment. Nope, not detailed micro-resolutions like “exercise X times each week” or even more global ones along the lines of “get healthier”. At least for me, today is the day I tie the ruminations of prior days, weeks, months and years together into something which feels something like a common thread to which I can cling as I pull myself through the second half or so of this life.

Like so many of the stuff that leaks out of my inner hard drive onto my keyboards and into my life, this slow-cooked epiphany was prompted by a tiny little random thought I stumbled upon in something I was reading. “We spend most of our lives in a reactive trance, not really thinking about why we do what we do.” –Tara Brach. That, my friends, stopped me right in my tracks. How much of my life am I living on auto-pilot? How much of what I do each day is the equivalent of handing over my day to an internal self-driving program that, at best, reacts to not only what has just happened but what is by history likely to happen next?

It is time for me to remember that a purposeful life must be one that is lived proactively, and that in order to be proactive it is necessary for one to have a purpose.

No one can be expected to live every moment of a life in a fully proactive mode, at least not without risking certain insanity. No, what I think I’m feeling is a lack of thoughtful purposefulness in most of my life at the moment. It’s more than goal setting, more than having come through the serial apply-matriculate-graduate kind of purpose of a younger life. It’s not a case of just “going through the motions” of existence either. What I think this New Year’s Day reflection is really about is a need to articulate a 30,000 ft. purpose for at least a portion of my life, and in so doing to give me something about which I can be proactive for a portion of each day.

As I made the “hard turn at mile marker 49” my friend Hari suggested that the second half of a life is spent in living the life that the previous 50 years you’d spent preparing everyone else for. Apparently I am a bit of a slower learner than some as it’s taken me an extra 7 years of so to be ready, but I at least appear to be ready to examine the concept of the purpose of what might be the next 50. For some this is undoubtedly an internal pursuit, but what little self-awareness I have leads me to believe that mine will be a more social, collaborative pursuit.

Should I have gotten here sooner? Is this a call to you if you are younger than I to start now, rather than later? Nah. We get here when we arrive, and not a moment sooner. In all likelihood my purpose will slam me upside the head when I’m looking in another direction. Is that the ultimate in being reactive? Or might the simple fact that I am open to the blow enough to call it a proactive part of the process?

We’ll see, I guess. We’ll figure it out, both you and I. For just this moment though I’m afraid that I have to step away from the keyboard, for out of the corner of my eye I can see the Man Cub headed toward the stairs. Will my dash to snag him before the top step be reactive or proactive?

Sometimes a purposeful life is actually lived in 10,000 3-foot moments.

I’ll see you next week…


Holiday Passages

A pop psychology author, classmate of my parents, once examined life’s stages in a book titled Passages. While I am no fan of her work (somewhat shallow and bereft of any real insight), her choice of a term for major phases of our lives is pretty good. “Passages”. Kind of evokes a journey of sorts. That part of her writing was pretty good.

Our family  will gather this weekend and this has me thinking a bit about those passages. All of our children will spend part of the Holidays with their in-laws; our boys will spend a bit of time with us. Young people truly become a kind of real adult when they take on the responsibility of nurturing a third entity, their marriage. Beth and I used to joke that we would feel like we were “real” adults when we owned our own washer and dryer, but really, we’d gone and grown up as soon as we consciously put our marriage ahead of either of our individual selves. This realization is all we really ask of our young marrieds in these, their middle passages.

This year many of our Christmas tables will have empty seats, or seats that will empty earlier than usual. That final passage demands as much attention as the first one, childhood; it just doesn’t really end as well. Still, it’s also a miracle that we go so very long before that last passage begins, both for us and for those we love. I am struck this week with a single thought: slow down and stay. Stay tiny. Stay young. Stay vibrant. Stay here and now.

Just stay.

In the end all of these passages are a one-way trip. You never back up. You don’t stand still. There’s really no such thing as a Mulligan or a do-over. It’s amazing how much help we need as we start our journey and then again as our journey comes to an end. In the middle, well, we have control. Dwelling in either the past or the future diminishes our present. Doesn’t it make sense to look at each day as its own kind of little miracle? Perhaps aware of what came before (a baby) and conscious of what lies ahead (an empty chair), all the while rejoicing in the miracle of right now.

Safe travels to all on their Holiday Passage.