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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More on Roles and Goals

Dear AB,

Your last blog essay really spoke to me. I enjoyed the quote from Moby Dick very much, and read it over and over.  The English is beautiful, and difficult, (not modern) but I think I draw the meaning. What I hear  is, "Who we are is whatever is in front of us at the moment.  Why shift our attention and effort to what is elsewhere, imagining that other paths and prizes are more satisfying? What we are confronted by, presented with, comprises the life we are meant to live, in spite of our protestations to the contrary." 

I understand what you mean about avoiding identification with a role, but I'm not sure that identification with a goal is so much better.  Would you clarify?  Maybe I am not defining "goal" broadly enough.  I am thinking that orienting ourselves with goals can still easily get us hung up on the success/failure duality.

Is it possible to  not identify with anything, to simply move forward moment to moment embracing whatever is?  Yes, we need to set appointments, tackle assignments, complete our work,  meet deadlines, & I suppose those objectives could be lumped under the heading "goals."  However things turn out though; and whatever unexpected turn things take, even if a "goal" is not reached, we are to be open to the lesson, the teacher, that is imbedded in the twist of fate brings peace within. Ishmael thought perhaps, that only such openness would bring true contentment.  Thoreau said, "Success is when you feel contented with only a sense of existence."  That  would be a pretty tall order for most modern-day folk. Still, I hear the wisdom in the notion that our "being" should trump our "doing" as we reflect on what gives our lives meaning.

...we are evolving beings who must continue to risk ourselves and fail in order to learn.

So, if we  refrain from judging the painful moments, the fearful moments,  we might learn something? If we lean in and listen, instead of labeling, escaping or disassociating, we might make friends with our fear and our pain?

Thanks for the wonderful essay, AB. 

Dear G
After I received you email I wrote another paragraph that I added to the essay.

"Mostly what we want in life has more to do with roles than goals. Think about it. We want success in business, to get to be a CEO or vice-president of the widget factory we work for. We want to be a married woman. We want to be a mother. We want to be a rich dad, not a poor dad, a college graduate not a drop-out. There’s nothing wrong with wanting these things except to the extent that we are skewed away from who we are in favor of what we want. There is a danger in wanting to be seen as popular by our friends, rather than wanting to be just seen by our friends."

And your final question I think can be answered by one of my favorite quotes although I like your quote from Thoreau  "Success is when you feel contented with only a sense of existence." As a matter of fact your quote makes me want to pick up Thoreau's book Walden Pond which I have never read. 

At any rate, the quote which helps with the idea of getting stuck in roles or goals for that matter is the following:

"Duties are ours, events are God's. This removes an infinite burden from the shoulders of a miserable, tempted, dying creature. On this consideration only can he securely lay down his head and close his eyes." Richard Cecil

And ancient wisdom says it this way. We should identify with the painting and not the picture, the dancing and not the dance. In other words, we should put our totality of being into what we are doing without any thought of the ultimate success or failure of our effort. Another quote comes to mind: "virtue is its own reward." A. B. Curtiss

Dear AB

Wow, I love your new paragraph! It adds much clarity.

So we can get so involved thinking about the what that we forget about the how. "What are we going to be when we grow up?" we are usually asked as children, not "How are you going to live your life?"  Ironically, the what, in the final analysis, accounts for  little, to the extent that the how is disregarded.  That's a key understanding that seems to be lost today.  If one has the title, the degrees, the fame & fortune, what could be missing?  Oh, maybe peace, contentment, kindness, compassion, character, integrity?

Could also be, "... danger in wanting to be seen as popular by our friends," rather than in wanting to simply be a friend.  Yes, friendship can deteriorate into an exercise in adding another notch to our belts,  a grasping for evidence of our worth, rather than seen as an opportunity to be kinder, more patient, more compassionate, indeed an opportunity to be friendly, to be a friend! 

Duties are ours, events are God's.  How liberating.  What a great quote.  We do our best & let the outcome rest. 

We should identify with the painting and not the picture, the dancing and not the dance. Beautifully said! 

I will try to remember these teachings. 
Thanks so much for sharing further thoughts!



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