Sunday, October 24, 2010

Seek Ye Earnestly, You May Find Happiness Along the Way.

Alice came to a fork in the road. “Which road do I take?” she asked.

“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.

“I don't know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn't matter.”

– Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland
I’m no longer a twenty-something or even a thirty-something. I guess that means I’m getting old, though I shouldn’t like to accept such a horrible possibility. I’m certain it’s far better than the alternative – death. It wasn’t too long ago that I’d hardly admit being “middle aged”. Middle-aged isn’t but a heartbeat away from old no matter your perspective.

Consider how different life seems as we look at it from different stages in life. A young man, full of hope, is driven if not blinded by ambition. He seeks out a certain life, fully intent on capturing happiness as if it is a possession. He thinks there’s a rainbow and the pot of gold is just as real. All he has to do is follow that rainbow and he’ll find it. Later, when half of life’s cards have been dealt, that surety isn’t quite so strong. Still, there is ambition but the strength to follow that ambition isn’t quite as resilient. The rainbow isn’t quite as vibrant and the surety of a pot of gold isn’t nearly as unwavering. Finally, an old man looks back on what has been, ambition long consumed in the pursuit of that happiness, he breathes in that undeniable gulp of satisfaction of what has been a very fulfilling life. No, there was no real rainbow with a pot of gold sitting there for the taking. Conversely, happiness was not something to be possessed; neither could it be purchased even for the price in the ransom of a pot of gold. His happiness was found, as the old man knows, through deliberate and passionate pursuit.

What do you want to do with your life? Where do you want to be? Why aren't you happy? What will make you happy? So many questions that are seemingly unimportant lead to answers that build a foundation upon which our life's highway is created. We cannot be happy if we live without ambition, wondering aimlessly. Many people flounder in their lives never really doing anything. If we do not have an understanding of what we're after, we will never gain more than what simply gets in our way as we wander through life.

Incredibly, it is too late when many realize that it was all for naught. The onset of what we have termed to be mid-life crisis comes when we realize our wanderings have been haphazard, leading us far from what really brings us joy or what really matters.

Instead of accepting what will eventually become of us, we will find greater joy in determining the correct path to follow. We cannot know what that path is until we know where it is we want to end up. Introspection and deep, significant planning is only part of the process. Maintaining a grasp on that reality, stopping and taking inventory, repositioning ourselves relevant to our desire and pressing forward with full purpose - these are what we must do if we are going to gain access to the better part.

“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” – Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland
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