My short list of the most important things: See what you look at. Look at everything. Hear what you listen to. Listen to everything. Know what you know, and what you don't know. Sit quietly as often as possible for as long as possible. Contemplate your original nature and your natural rhythms. Realize that you cannot change your life without changing the way you live your life. Without changing the way you think about your life. Without changing the people you run with. Without becoming transparent to yourself. When you become transparent to yourself, you become transparent to transcendence. When you become transparent to transcendence, you become as God, with you and "the Father" being one. How different are you willing for your life to be?
It is our body of work that does it. It is the cumulative impact of our life on other lives over the full course of our life that makes our living worthwhile, and stands as our contribution to the whole-- that constitutes "doing our bit" in support of the idea of humanity in the cosmos. It's like this: We affect every moment for better or worse, for good or ill, by the way we respond to the moment. We influence every situation through the response we make to the situation. We are, then and there, for the sole purpose of being who we are, then and there, for the good of then and there. You can blow that off if you want to. That is your way of responding to here and now. You can do that with every here and now that proceeds from this here, this now. Blow it off. Maybe that is just who you are, and you can't help it, even by paying attention to it, and wondering if there is a more helpful way of being present in the situations that constitute your life. I'm saying that you owe it to yourself and to the rest of us to be consciously present in each situation as it arises, and to offer those situations what is being called for there to the best of your ability, one situation at a time all your life long. Blow it off if you want to. Never mind if you like. I did what I could do for you, you wanted nothing to do with it, and that's that. But, before you go, look at it this way: An orchestra, a choir, a quartet, a duo, you standing alone at the microphone, works best when everyone is on key, in tune, and harmoniously in accord with the music. Stay with me here. Every situation is a performance before an audience, with music and a microphone, with a rhythm and a flow, calling us to dance in sync with the movement of that time and that place. And when we do it, it is beautiful. And when we do not do it, it is not. Your place and mine is to grace each situation with the full wonder of our presence, day in and day out forever. Blow it off if you must. But, know what you are doing when you do. How we live matters! It is the only thing that matters! And we get to practice our part, to play our role, to be who we are, offering what we have to give, in each situation as it arises. We have no excuse for failing to be good at being us over time. And everything depends on our being good at being us, moment-by-moment, day-by-day. Don't believe it if you want to, but why wouldn't you believe it? Why would you believe something that lets you get by with being a fly in the soup, a gnat in the eye, a scourge on the earth, a blight, a curse, on the legacy of humanity eternally, the bane of human existence through all the ages? Answer me that, before you go.
Being right about who we are, and living to place ourselves in accord with who we are is the essence of true-human-being-hood, and the most meaningful thing we can do in the time left for living-- for ourselves and all of humankind. "What I do is me/for that I came," said Gerad Manley Hopkins. "By the grace of God, I am what I am," said Paul the Apostle. "I yam what I yam!" said Popeye the Sailor Man. There is no greater honor or pleasure than being who we are in the way we live our life. And it is the Secret Cause (Stephen Dedalus/James Joyce) that directs us to our death. And what a beautiful, wonderful way to die that is. We are going to die some way, some how. Why not die being who we are? As a direct consequence of being who we are? Deliberately, willfully, being who we are every step of the way? What is a better way to go? Mean to die by the way you live! Let that be your gift to the world! As surely as Jesus' death was his gift to the world! To live and to die being who we are is the greatest meaning we can give to our existence! Why throw it away drinking beer looking at the ocean? Drinking beer, looking at the ocean, is only a pilgrimage to restore our soul and deepen our commitment to being who we are in a world that doesn't notice or care who we are-- a "pause that refreshes" and enables us to stand up, and step back into our work of being who we are, doing what needs us to do it, the way only we can, all our life long.
The rhythms and themes, tastes and interests, proclivities and ways of making coffee, or whatever we drink instead, which direct and define our living, are unique among people who have ever lived, or will ever live. We are one of a kind, individual and distinctive, set apart. And then we get married. It takes fifty years or so to knock off the sharp corners and smooth out the rough edges and make each of us fit company for the other of us. Marriage is equivalent to the smashups that went on for eons after the Big Bang that eventually created the laws of physics and biology by destroying everything that didn't belong as it was where it was. We all take our place over time. Become domesticated and can be trusted to know our limits and where we belong, and where we have no business being. And, it would help to know something of the rhythms and themes, etc. of the person we are marrying before we marry. Insuring compatibility will not guarantee no collision of galaxies, but, it will reduce the likelihood, and that alone would make it worth the effort.
We all die by our own hand. We all are the secret cause of our own death. We all have rhythms and themes and ways of being, and being-not, that carry us through our life to the very end. We step toward our own dying step-by-step, moment-by-moment, day-by-day. In each of us, our fate and our destiny meet up and work themselves out, to our oblivious, unknowing, out-of-touchness, and our clueless turning from one thing to another, completely unaware of the rhythms and themes that are dancing us, directing us, all our life long. Noticing and knowing what we are doing will enable us to smile as death comes upon us, and step toward it as though we are meeting our lover, greeting it with a warm embrace, saying with passion and meaning every word, "It is so good to meet you at last, and on such a good day to die!"