We need help with the tasks of life, and we need to be helping one another with the tasks of life. And we have no idea what the tasks of life are. The primary task of life is knowing who we are and what we are about. It is easier to go at it in reverse-- Knowing who we are not and what we are not about. We have to be clear about these things. The Caste System in India is an attempt to simplify the task. Dharma is duty carefully spelled out according to the class or rank into which one is born. That is the wrong way to do it. Dharma cannot be imposed from without, according to who our parents were and what Caste they belong to, as though who we are, and not, can be handed to us with our birth certificate. Our identity is not thrust upon us, it is innate within us. We grow into who we are over time-- if the conditions and circumstances of our life permit it. In India, people are bound to be who and what someone else declares them to be. Talk about death to the soul! The Caste System kills people before they are conceived! Who we are and what we are about are organic-- we become who we are, unfolding from within according to the blend of potential and possibility developing within the limits of time and place. Each of us is a mystery to be beheld becoming over the full course of our life. Nothing is preordained, iron clad, decreed from above, declared by the stars (Or those who "read the stars"). Who we are and what we are about is time and place dependent. Who would Michael Jordan and LeBron James have been in 1776? Or you, or I? "Time and chance happen to us all." And the primary task of life is to take what comes with us from the womb in on hand, and the context and circumstances of our life in the other hand, and get the two hands together, in ways that bring forth our best in the here and now of our living. Who tells us that ever over the full course of our life? All we are handed is "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The dumbest question in the encyclopedia of questions. "What does wanting know?" is one of the best, and is never asked. We are up against it from the start, born into a milieu in which no one knows what needs to be done to become who we are born to be. Who are we? What are we about? Who are we not? What are we not about? Sit with the questions. See where they lead. Even now. Even yet. Even so.
The toughest thing is coming to terms with our choices. We do not have good-enough choices. We do not get to choose our choices. We don't get to tag out until better choices come along. Our choices are our choices and that's that. Squaring up to that is the hardest thing. We keep trying to give ourselves better choices. Denial is denying that these are our choices and that's that. We want better choices! Our choices are our choices and that's that. When we can square ourselves up with this fact, we can begin the work of doing what can be done with what we have to work with. That comes down to what needs to happen here and now, and what can we do about that with the resources, internal and external, at hand? What can we do with the choices that are ours to choose from? Moment by moment, situation by situation? We can despair and be depressed and despondent because these are our choices, or we can pick ourselves up and get to work, in a "Here we are, now what?" kind of way.
What do we do for the simple sake of doing it alone? With me, it is not wash the dishes, take out the garbage, mow the grass, or dust the furniture and mop the floor. I do those things because they need to be done. I do other things because I am expected to and other people depend on me to do them. And I do other things because I am paid to do them, and the cost of living requires me to make enough money to live on. With whatever time I have left over in a week, I get to do what I enjoy doing for the pleasure/joy of doing them alone. Naps head the list. Relishing the wonder of stillness, silence and solitude. Cooking. Eating things I like. Drinking coffee. Reading. Writing. Photography and working with photographs. Zooming with the daughters and granddaughters, family and friends. Working in the yard with my wife. Walking through nurseries, buying plants. Walking through the natural world. Taking a shower. Getting out of bed each morning. How about you?
The mark of a well-lived life is the degree to which it is grounded in-- and centered upon-- its original nature, with balance and harmony, sincere and non-contriving. These terms mean absolutely nothing to contemporary western culture. And that is a telling indictment of contemporary western culture. "What is the face that was yours before your grandparents were born?" If you are like most people alive today, the question is absurd and meaningless. If I ask you who you are, you are likely to talk about what you like and dislike. If I ask you how thinking about what you like keeps you from thinking about who you are, what would you say? These are essential questions. Our identity is crucial to the kind of life we live, in terms of the degree the life we live reveals or conceals our identity. A life well-lived integrates, incarnates, serves, reveals, expresses and makes known who we are. We live to be one with ourselves. How are you coming with that? Here's a little twist on this theme that may rock your little world. We are comfortable saying, or with hearing, that Jesus came as the incarnation of God. He said, "The Father and I are one." And I'm saying we are here to incarnate ourselves. As we do that, we, also, incarnate that which has always been called "God." That which is God and we are one, and we cannot live aligned with ourselves without also being aligned with God. And that is what we are here to do. How did you say you were coming?