You see, I have a theory: I believe that you, me, all of us, have in the past and/or are currently "screwing up" in this game we call life. Too many people in this day and time have gotten so busy "getting by," so busy being busy, that they have let the colors fade from their lives. They have settled too cheap, way too cheap. Think about it: Your life, behind closed doors, can totally suck. It can be a major train wreck, yet you will get up in the morning and instead of working on your mind and your heart for even five minutes, you will obsess around for two hours, focusing totally on your appearance instead of your substance. You do it all throughout your life. You would do well to stop and think about just how much of your life energy is absorbed by the superficial rather than what you know in your heart really matters. A good example is found in our approach to "tying the knot." I see tons of couples getting married every year and I'll bet 90-plus percent of them spent months, or even years, planning their wedding and almost no time planning their marriage! How crazy is it to spend more time on the caterer and the flowers for a one-hour event and precious little if any time on kids, money, and life plan. (I'm not just saying that because I'm a man and don't get how important a wedding is to a woman! I have three sisters, all married. I get it. I'm just saying, plan the marriage, too!) The same is true with your life. Your life is created from the inside out, so you must get right with you on the inside -- and that takes time and focus on you; not your social mask, but you.
This stuff about self, about who you are on the inside, matters, it really matters. Why? Because a life without color is a life without excitement and passion. It is a gray existence where you put one foot in front of the other and go through the motions without any emotions. You spend all of your energy meeting expectations and doing jobs and chores. You stop really living and instead start existing: You get up, feed the kids, worry about money, go to work, come home, do the laundry, cook dinner, worry about the kids, mow the yard, worry some more about money, watch TV, eat some more, worry some more, go to bed; then you get up and do it all over again, and again, and again, and again, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Make no mistake about it: When chores, routine existence, and just playing it safe become the only purpose in life, there is no purpose, and one must be found. You need to know your "highest and best use" in this world, and then to pursue it. How tragic would it have been if Einstein had spent his life as a merchant or a sailor; if Elvis had remained a truck driver; if Mother Teresa had been an accountant or a waitress? When mindless, unchallenging, routine existence and safety are blindly accepted and become unthinking goals, there can be no authenticity, because you and everyone else has a mission, a purpose in life that cannot be denied if you are to live fully. If you have no purpose, you have no passion. If you have no passion, you have sold your self out. I know that, because I know that within each of us there are passions that, if acknowledged and released, will energize and excite the experience of life.
In a passionless life, superficiality becomes the substitute for the things that ought to matter. False goals like money, approval from others, and the accumulation of "stuff" will come to dominate your life and its energy. You are then trapped in a descending circle of aimless existence. If you are committed to nothing, if you believe in nothing, including yourself, you can be led to and suckered into anything. You are uniquely equipped for a mission in this world, and to fail to recognize and commit to finding that mission and then achieving it is to wither in mind, body, and spirit. You cannot play the game of life trying not to lose, trying to play it safe. You must live to win; however, you may personally define "winning." To do otherwise is to deny who you are.
Copyright © 2001 by Phillip C. McGraw
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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