Happiness & Living
The function of a man is to live, not to exist ~ Jack London
I love this Jack London quote, I think it focuses on the most important concept to developing your own personal happiness. We have one life, one gift of an existence, on chance to be alive, to do anything else but LIVE this life is a crime and it in some ways dishonors those who have lost this opportunity too soon. I know often in life it seems like we have no options, nothing we can do but to continue existing the way we so often do. Get up, go to work, deal with our family obligations, rinse and repeat, it can continue on like this for years. It doesn’t have to be this way, and tonight, I’m talking at least as much to myself as I am to you my friends.
Growing up I watched a lot of people around me work jobs that they did not love, in fact, at times, jobs they didn’t even like, sometimes jobs they even hated. They did this for some good reasons, some bad. They did it to support their families, to provide a better life for the people they loved, that was the good reason. They also did what they did because they didn’t think they had any other options, the bad reason. Now I get that there are times when people truly don’t have options, I get the idea of responsibility, of poverty. But those times are truly rare and even when it really seems like we don’t have options, we do, or more importantly we will. As a result of this experience, when I got older and completed my first graduate degree I promised myself I would never work a job I didn’t like, understanding the price on my soul would be too high.
It is up to us my friends, to start, you can plan, you can take it one step at a time, you can begin, or even begin to begin if that is all you have in you at the moment. But living is essential, and mindfully living at that. It is imperative that we are present in the moments of our lives because they are precious and fleeting. Whether it is being at work, at play, spending time with your children and family, even laughing or crying with your friends, be present at all times. I wrote about this earlier this year in a post on Mindfulness as a way to Happiness, centering on the ideas of Thich Nhat Hahn. Mindfulness can be that beginning or the beginning of the beginning.
Recently, I sat at a fork in the road as many of us do at many points in our life. In a very real way I had to decide between money, comfort and security and truly living. Comfort and security at the price of existing in my work life, something I promised not to do. Given that promise and my deep understanding of the dilemma of existing versus living, it was still a hard decision. Having grown up at times when money was tight, or even more than tight, being in financial difficulty stresses me out like nothing else. It takes away my ability to help and support my family as well, so giving up that security to more fully engage in my life is always a difficult decision.
I do well my friends at living as fully as I can and hope through this ministry to help you do the same. However we work 2080 hours a year minus vacations, plus all the extra hours answering e-mails and attending functions. To not do work that you love, that is part of living, is an unfulfilling path even if it pays well. So the decision I needed to make was hard and as I have been told so often in my life, no one said this thing called life would be easy; wonderful, exciting, exasperating, unpredictable, but never fair or easy.
As regular readers know the choice I made was to quit my job, sell my house and hit the road, it hasn’t all gone smooth recently but I’m still on track to hit the Appalachian Trail at the end of this month.
Remember, we need to get up every day and not just exist and go through the motions but truly live and make every day a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane
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