Sitting here at Dulles waiting to fly to SFO after four weeks visiting friends and helping my older sister, I’m eager to head back with a new game plan. Hopefully I’ve broken some old habits, like caffeine and television, and will form new ones, including more self-discipline and making movies.
During my travels, I’ve been reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. One piece of advice struck me strongly: “Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.”
The Buddhist meditation on mortality elaborates on that theme:
Every moment matters…. I shall always live my life with purpose. Time never remains still, and it’s up to me to use my time in the most meaningful way. I shall live in harmony with my deeper aspirations so that when my final day arrives I will be able to leave with ease and without remorse.
But how can I “use my time in the most meaningful way”? What are my “deeper aspirations”?
Since the world seems to be ever more selfish, self-centered, tribalistic, nationalistic, and militaristic, what options do we have?
When visiting with Andy Maxwell and Sara Colm, Andy suggested, “Reach out to folks and talk face-to-face.” In a follow up conversation, Andy helped me formulate a plan: Invite old, close friends to get together, one-on-one and/or in small groups, to discuss: “What do you think about the state of the world and what can we do about it?”
To my mind we need one or more national, nonviolent, compassionate, joy-filled movements in every country to help make their country more compassionate — and more willing to cooperate with other countries to make the world more compassionate — movements that focus on winnable goals and stay together over time to move onto to new goals.
I’ve long been looking for such a movement to join. Thrive East May may be incubating such an effort. So when I return, I will get engaged in that community.
In the past I would often get discouraged and become melancholy and tired and get stoned at night and watch mindless television for hours, telling myself I need to rest and take care of myself. But creative activity can generate energy rather than deplete it.
So during my week alone outside Asheville I made a list of tasks that I want to accomplish and tracked how much time I spent on each of them. That review, as well as my reflecting on my prior life in San Francisco, led me to conclude that I need to spend less time reading or watching the news, and will try to “cut the cord” on my television.
On weekends I’ll socialize with friends, commune with Mother Nature, and maybe catch some live music or watch a movie. And I hope to socialize during the week as well, especially during meals.
Monday through Friday, I tentatively plan to devote two hours to each of the following: write, read books, correspondence (email and Facebook), read the news and other articles on the Internet, exercise and miscellaneous tasks, and then late in the evening, make movies. Those look like good 12-hour workdays to me, leaving ample time for socializing, eating, and sleeping.
With approach, I believe I can monitor myself, guard against burnout, and see if it proves to be the kind of work that is energizing.
The number of people who read and react to what I post is decreasing. Readers rarely share what I post. The reasons are likely multiple. Most people do not consider my posts to be as valuable as I do. There is a flood of information on the Internet. And I may have alienated some people with strong opinions that they disagree with.
Occasionally, that lack of support disappoints me and I feel sorry for myself and tell myself that I was too self-indulgent in my youth, failed to develop my talents, and have made too many mistakes.
Then I tell myself, “I am good enough (and will get better), I can only do what I can do, and I am not the point — the point is to do the best I can to serve others.” And I feel better, fired up, and ready to go.
Today I tell myself that even if only 10 people read what I write, I will write as if 10,000 read it.
And I will devote more time to face-to-face dialogue that will enable me to better understand others and our world, while aiming to find more truth, justice, and beauty.