Monday, 15 February 2016

"Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one’s self. It is not about the absence of other people-it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others. Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather, it means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other. It is not about the presence of other people-it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, whether or not we are alone."

- Parker Palmer (emphasis added)

Friday, 12 February 2016

Boring is the New Brave

"Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about — quite apart from what I would like it to be about — or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions." - Parker Palmer

I spent a good number of minutes reading and re-reading this quote from Palmer's book "Let your life Speak." I pondered for some time, as we all do when reading something inspirational, over what this means in real time. That is, what do I hear when I listen to my life, rather than telling it what I want from it? What do you hear?

For me, the answer is a series of questions: They say you must write for your readers. Can you do this and also write for yourself? What my life is truly about... is this different than what I want it to be about? Can my life as a nurse and my life as a writer stem from the same values? Did I force these vocations upon myself, or was I called to them? Am I doing these things because I want to be "great", or simply because I want to do them?

Which leads me to further questioning: Where has this obsession with greatness come from, and how have we redefined what greatness is? Perhaps our obsession is fed by the headlines we read about over-night sensations. Gratuitous fan-fiction turning into pop culture phenomenons, or what-have-you. We may or may not admit it, but we want what these people have. An average human being one day, a guest on Oprah the next. We want to see our face next to a net worth seven - make it eight - digits long when we enter our name into the search engine. Without investing a kidney into Google Adwords, of course.

We don't read about the everyday heroes. The one's who put their nose to the grindstone day in and day out, because they are passionate about what they do. They may one day be successful, but it could take them years. Decades, even. We won't hear about them until they've already made their millions. What if they never make their millions? What if their life is about providing for their family, and raising children to be healthy, productive members of society, and just that? Would we care? Would anyone read about them? What if we heard that they accomplished this doing what they love to do? To me, that is bravery; that is something worthy of applause.

There was a time when having well-fed children with a roof over their heads was a great achievement. When did that become boring? We've long since left Maslow's Hierarchy in the dust, taking the basics of comfortable survival for granted. Will better, and bigger, and richer ever be enough? Instead, why don't we spend our energy appreciating these basic elements, and let our values that lie deep in the core of who we are guide and direct our vocation? You may be forever anonymous to the world wide web, but if your children see a smile on your face at the end of a day's work... Well, this is the part where you decide if that's worth it.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Diary of a Cynic

You’ve finished uni, you’ve done some travelling, and you’ve even worked a bit here and there to make some money. It may even be a job related to what you studied, if you’re lucky. But most likely not. It’s possible you’ve even accomplished something creative. You’re approaching 30 rapidly, if you haven’t hit that mark already, and you find yourself asking, “Now what?”

It’s possible that this is becoming the popular age for the initiation of parenting because suddenly we 30-somethings of Western, middle class society are craving a purpose of some kind that is beyond increasing the number of selfies in foreign places on our Instagram. The creation and rearing of another human being provides this sense of purpose.

This will make many young people gag or shudder; the thought of a dependent child requiring your 24 hour awareness sounds like a cruel version of solitary confinement. Other’s may think, “Yes, that’s what I’m missing!” The rest of us, like myself, fall into the other category. Not ready to be a parent, we’ve spent all our money on travel, the creative project is done, and the blues have set in. We realize as we stare into the mirror that we really are a jack of all trades, master of none. The question remains, “What now?” 

If you’ve read this far you may be hoping I have some kind of revelation to share that answers this question. Sorry to disappoint, I don’t. I’m like you, wading from day to day, watching other people accomplish great things and wondering if I have greatness hidden in me somewhere and one day I’ll be inspired, and also make a really rich friend, and make headlines by changing the world. For that day, at least, until someone else comes along and does one better. I am a realist, however, so I ask again (I truly want to know) where does one go from here??