Saturday, February 15, 2014

Settling Versus Optimizing

What do you want to do with your life?  What do you want its content and character to be?  At the end of days, what will you have done to contribute to the planet?  How can one matter and touch as many lives as possible in a positive way?

My friend Mike from Colorado is constantly challenging and reminding me of a fundamental issue I have been thinking about a lot in the past year.  Do we settle in our lives for something that is not right for us, holding us back emotionally and spiritually?  Or do we optimize the time we have on this earth and strive to have and to be the best we can?  Simultaneous to my rumination on this matter, I've recently had a cluster of friends and students, through fate, thrust into situations where they had to or will have to make heavy decisions in their own respective lives.

Thinking more about this and looking at the data, I see situations where we settle for jobs in which we converge to a semi-constant state of being tired, emotionally beleaguered, and unmotivated.  We settle for relationships with people that are not right for us and keep us mired in a malaise of negativity.  We live in places we don't want to live, say "yes" when we really want and need to say "no", and let our boundaries wash away when, if anything, they should be fortified.  In short, we settle, and the time we complain we never have slips silently by, and we wistfully watch our dreams dissipate …

Of course I can't speak for others but looking back at my own life I can easily identify the culprits in myself that caused me to settle in those instances.  Honestly, in those instances, it was loneliness and fearful feelings that I somehow didn't measure up, the tentacles of shame.  Through gratitude, through grace, through hard work and the helping hands of true friends, and above all, through a commitment to love, I learned this about myself and was able to invoke a paradigm shift.

If your job is sucking the spirit out of your soul, then quit it and find something to do that keeps you occasionally awake at night with passion.  If you want to walk through life with a soulmate, make sure you are working on your own issues first and then be patient and discriminating.  As for the dream crushers and chaos creators, give them no close quarters, and allow them to survive in their own altered realities.  If you want to hike the Appalachian Trail, then go.  If you want to climb Kilimanjaro or visit Machu Picchu, then go.  If you want to run a 10K or a marathon, then start training.  Master an instrument in order to write beautiful music.  Go back to school.  Jump out of an airplane, learn how to swim, how to make a loaf of banana bread, or a new language.  Sell half your shit and move across the country to a place you've always wanted to live.  Do whatever it takes to make you feel complete, whole, and that you are living by your values.  How you choose to spend your precious time, is exactly that -- your choice.  Settling versus optimizing.

Of course, all this is easy to say, but tough to do.  For me, trying to live an optimized life has required constant consciousness and compassion.  I have had to learn to be comfortable with risk, sometimes having to normalize discomfort.  As for mistakes?  I've made plenty of them.  But I have always had this strength, this "5th gear", that has allowed me to move forward and have faith that the Universe is going to put me exactly where it wants me to be.  You have to have an unshakeable belief that something better is waiting for you just up over the next rise, not give into fear, and continue to move forward with courage in your climb up the mountain.  I think this is the essence of what faith is.

Love and peace be with all of you …