I believe there is an idea, a further notion within our beings, that this life isn't meant to be lived alone, independently, for one's self. However, we seem to be living in an interesting time in history where we are told to look after one's self before anyone else. Sidenote: in CPR training courses, if someone in need of help is still in immediate danger, you are not to help them until you know it is safe because, if you do run to their aid and get hurt in the process, then there will be two people in need of help instead of one. This of course is a rare occurrence for most of us. So my question is, what happens when the notion of looking after one's self first spills over into everyday situations?
I would not be able to count the number of times I have heard someone say to either me or someone else, "You need to do what's best for you, not anyone else."
Now, I understand this statement may be coming from a good place, and can in some cases even be helpful. However, is it true? Is it the way in which we should conduct ourselves on a daily basis?
I am told that we need to follow MY dreams, that I need to do what is best for ME, I need to look after MYSELF. But, if you think about it, none of us are alone, none of us are an island... our stories always include others. MY dreams, that which is best for ME and even looking after MYSELF doesn’t truly happen unless I have people WITH me.
At the Academy Awards, you don't hear speeches from Leonardo DiCaprio or Anne Hathaway that talk about how amazing they are and how they can't believe they won all by themselves, without anyone's help. At the Grammy's, you don't hear Taylor Swift or Katy Perry thank themselves for all the hard work they put in and how they are glad they didn't have any help to reach the status they have obtained and how the only reason they received this prestigious honor is because they only looked out for themselves and made it with no one's help. No. The speeches are filled with (begrudgingly annoying sometimes) an excessive amount of thanks to producers and directors, family and friends, managers and special assistants, co-stars and inspirations and on and on.
Without people surrounding us, pushing us in the direction we want to go, encouraging us to shoot for the stars, helping us gain connections and auditions, people who believe in us, we would not get anywhere. Connections and auditions don't have to be in the music or film industry. They could simply mean a reference for a job opening in a field someone really wants to work in. It does not have to mean it leads to fame and fortune, it just has to mean it leads in a direction that an individual wants to go.
All for one.
Because, theoretically, everyone around us is FOR us, we must be FOR everyone else.
Let's take this down to everyday life rather than dreams and aspirations...
If a co-worker needs time off because they want to see their family, you should step and help them instead of thinking, "Well, that is my only day off and I want to spend it how I want."
If a friend needs a ride to the airport, you should accept rather than thinking, "Well, they won't give me money for gas and it's way out of my way, so I'm not going to do it."
If a stranger comes up to you asking to jump their car, you should help rather than pretending you don't have jumper cables.
One for all.
There are too many times in my life that I have witnessed anyone from a good friend to a stranger, make excuses or think about themselves instead of extending a helping hand to others. In many cases, it is something they have done before many times in the past but the next time, they just don't want to because they aren't going to get anything out of it.
Too often we always want something for ourselves…
If I cover that shift, they better cover mine this weekend...
If I drive them to the airport, they better pay me for gas....
If I jump their car, I hope I at least get 10$ out of it...
Why is that our default thought process nowadays? That we better get something out of everything we do, and if we aren't somehow compensated for our time, money, or effort, then we will pass or never do it again.
Let’s change this mentality. It may be idealistic. It certainly won't be instantaneous. It definitely won't be easy. But, as most great minds have said, we must be the change we wish to see in the world. In order to change something, we must actively do it; not just hope and pray for change to come. The only way it will happen is for ONE to start living for ALL... and over time, the ALL will start living for ONE.
At the end of last week, I posted about the WHYs in our lives, the reasons behind what we choose to give our time to and if those relationships should be continued or should be revised.
Alongside the reasons WHY we do certain things, there lies the reasons why we do not do certain things: the WHY NOTs.
What are WHY NOTs? And what do they look like for you? I define WHY NOTs like this: they are the relationships we would like to enter into or spend more time doing.
Why do I not spend more time with this person or that group of people...?
Why do I not take more time to read...?
Why do I not draw, write, paint, create more often...?
Why do I not exercise more often...?
I believe there are two umbrella answers to these questions of WHY NOT:
"I don't have the time to give to ____________."
"I will do that tomorrow/next week/some day."
The important thing to remember with your WHY NOTs: it is not about having the time, but making the time. Actively using the time you already have and giving it to the relationships you desire. And giving the time to one thing requires either 1) taking your spare time and using it more efficiently or 2) taking time away from something else.
Utilizing spare time comes down to will. I curse myself, for knowing full well I have the time but not using it efficiently. Instead, I watch TV or play video games or waste it endlessly browsing social media for no good reason. Whether you want to admit it or not, we all have spare time, and it can be used differently than what we currently use it for.
Instead of watching TV for an hour at night, maybe you read that book you've wanted to read.
Instead of watching endless YouTube videos in the morning, maybe you can use that time to exercise.
Instead of coming up with an excuse to stay home, maybe you call that friend you would like to see more often and go out for breakfast or lunch.
I found myself asking, "Why do I not write more often? It is something of a passion of mine and I enjoy doing it. So WHY NOT write?" Despite what I thought was a busy schedule, I decided to do something about it. I carved out an hour a morning to dedicate to writing. I write three pages, nothing but my steam of consciousness. Whatever comes to my mind, I put on the page. This can be, "Well, I slept in this morning" to "I scaled the mountain until I reached its peak. Looking down on the small town of Breckenridge from the snow-packed oasis in the sky, I let out a deep breath and hopped off the edge, my snowboard edge carving into and propelling me down the icy mountain face." Just the act of putting pen to paper is writing, and these three pages were much more than what I had been writing which was zero pages.
Other times, in order to make time for one thing, you must take time away from something else.
You could move around your work schedule in order to attend MTL. In order to reconnect with an old friend, you might have to take away from spending time at home with your significant other or your family.
Over three years, I have consistently made the trip over to Keystone on Wednesday nights to spend time with a group of people fighting dragons and scouring dungeons--yes, playing Dungeons and Dragons. This year, with a schedule shift for a job change, I found myself not attending these sessions anymore because I would find myself so exhausted on Wednesdays from substitute teaching all day and coaching basketball after school. After two months, I found myself asking, "I enjoyed those nights. WHY NOT go more often? WHY do I substitute teach on Wednesdays and leave myself drained to not attend or enjoy Dungeons and Dragons?" I missed this connection with this group of people and the time spent together laughing and role-playing around the game table. So, I stopped substitute teaching on Wednesdays to create the time and space to once again attend these sessions and have that interaction with those people. Those personal connections are important to me and I needed to make my schedule work to continue those relationships.
In my example above, I found myself taking time out of the WHYs of my life (teaching and basketball) and giving them to a WHY NOT (Dungeons and Dragons). You may find that the reason you aren't doing something you want to do is because you are currently doing something you don't want to do. In going through this process of asking yourself WHY and WHY NOT, you may find the clarity and the courage to take time away from something in order to make time for something else.
In these two experiences, I found myself living a surface life where there was no passion but always a tomorrow. And I wanted to live more within my passions like there is no tomorrow.
More to Life has become a meeting place for people, a community of people who want and see there is more to life and how to tap into that MORE.
Every human--their person, their being-- contains depths to their self that may, across the timeline of an entire life, go undiscovered or ignored. We like to think we know ourselves better than anyone else. Sometimes, though, we may tell ourselves a story about who we aren't, or maybe of who we want to be but have not arrived there yet. But who you aren't, isn't intresting and in order to get to a place of who you want to be, you must accept and see yourself for who you are now. There is something about geting down to the nitty-gritty within ourselves that may uncover undesirable truths of who we are.
More to Life, for me, is a place to where I go to find encouragement and inspiration to open up myself and dive deep within. As much as engaging in community and connecting with one another is entirely important, it is just as important to connect with our own interiors. With so many social outlets and faces we can put on for certain people or groups, one way to get reacquainted with yourself is to ask the WHY.
Keep in mind, relationships don't always refer to people. Everything we choose to participate in--jobs, hobbies, or other commitments--requires time and energy and effort to be a part of. In other words, we enter into relationships with and through those things. I have found, very recently in fact, stepping back and looking at these aspects of my life and asking myself WHY gives me insight to who I am now.
Why do I do this...?
Is it for money...?
Is it for status...?
Is it for the love or the passion...?
Is it because of an outside pressure...? Because everyone/no one else is doing it...?
Is it because of pressure to not let someone down...?
There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions...and these are only a few questions that I tend to ask myself when looking into the reasons I chose to enter into a relationship with/through something. But to know your why and to be blatantly honest with yourself is crucial. Recently, I have questioned some of the things in my life, some things that I used to enjoy but don't seem to anymore. Why did I enjoy them? Why does it seem I don't anymore? The interests and people you engage can either fill you up with joy and significance or tap you out of emotional and sometimes physical stamina. I realized the things in my life I have dedicated a lot of my time and effort and mental capacity are really things that don't fill me up anymore. In fact, they tap me out, so much so that it bleeds into other aspects of my life; things that I want to do, some I need to do, either go undone or the experience of them suffer tremendously.
When I intentionally consider my life, it has been fairly stagnant for the last couple years now. Same jobs and same experiences, just another calendar year in the books and I was comfortable with it and it never seemed to bother me. But as time goes on, times change, and we change. We are constantly BECOMING someone new every day. As we become and change, it's possible that our relationships should change too. I've now realized some of the things that I have a relationship with are no longer helping me. I'm doing them just out of commitment and for my livelihood.
So I asked myself WHY and some of the answers to my WHY were not easy to admit. When we ask ourselves WHY, we have to be ready for the difficult truth of some good reasons and not-so-good reasons as well...an inner voice of truth that we sometimes ignore in order to portray a more neatly packaged story.
It's important to know your good, bad and ugly WHYs. THey will certainly change and evolve over time--maybe next week, or next year, or years down the road. Knowing the full scope of your WHYs and embracing them will help you discover your true self, and know your depths, and live more connected to who it is you truly are.
These posts offer further reflection on topics we tackle during MTL nights.