I am unsure of where to go from here. There is no lack of experience and knowledge in my psyche, and I have had my fair share of ups and downs. But I also know that I don’t actually know much at all. And that’s okay. I’m in no rush to figure it out. I have all the time that God is going to give me, and that’s enough for me.
I try to be a good Dad and husband, but that stuff is difficult. I find it easier to be kind and compassionate to people I don’t know. Why can that be? Well, maybe it’s because I feel no real responsibility regarding their end-game or where their future will take them. With kids, I have to be many things…sometimes more than one at any given time. I want to give them everything, but I know that would ruin them. I want to instill serious discipline and expose them to the real world, but that feels cruel and unnecessary. I want to be their friend, but if you give them an inch…
Something I have been practicing lately is consistency and communication. Not only with the kids, but with my wife as well. I think that it is very important that if parents are saying or doing something that may not be ideal for development, at least they are doing and saying the same thing as each other. Corrections can always be made, but security can easily be broken for a child.
“Life is Suffering”- Jordan B. Peterson (jordanpeterson.com). This was a shocking statement when I first heard him say it. So I have been listening to more of Dr. Peterson’s talks and lectures, and I am reading his second book now. I have been thinking and reflecting on the concept of suffering…and I believe that he is right. As I look back at my life, I’ve honestly had more hard times than easy, or simple. But that, to me, is the beauty of life. We all suffer. So let’s suffer together.
Another concept that he adds to “Life is Suffering” is the idea that we should do everything we can to “contend” with that, to work on ourselves and build ourselves up to reduce that suffering. And also that once we have learned to “shoulder that burden” and ease our personal suffering, we should do everything in our power to lift others up and relieve suffering on a larger scale. This is what he describes as the meaning and purpose of existence, if I am paraphrasing correctly.
I don’t want to spend the entire post here regurgitating someone else’s ideas, but I’ll conclude that part by stating that I have not found someone with whom I can relate to and understand as much as I have with Dr. Peterson. Give him some of your time. Maybe shut off Facebook for a day, hop on YouTube and listen to his stuff. If you search for it, you can’t miss it. Additionally, Dr. Peterson draws a comparison between world religions (especially Christianity) and the concept of suffering. Lots of lectures on that also.
Something very important that I have learned over the last few years, and especially over the last month is that life is precious (even with all the suffering). I am grateful to be here, and to have the things that I do. My health and wellness is not peak at the moment, my memory is shot, and I have pain in places that make me tear up sometimes. But I’d rather Be than to not Be.
I have found that one of the most difficult things that I face daily is not only my own mindset of remaining grateful, but helping my kids to realize how absolutely blessed they are to be alive, to have what they have, and to stop complaining about trivial material things. Maybe that’s a child-like disposition that kids share collectively, or maybe my kids are spoiled. I have committed to change this nonsense. If we have to begin living like paupers to achieve this goal, then I’ll gladly do it. I can do it longer than they can…I was in the Army for 10 years, so I can “suffer” through many conditions for months that many people couldn’t do for a day.
Okay, so that rant is complete. In essence, I choose to look at life as a gift rather than a task. But after having almost passed away, I am beginning to feel that I’ve lost my direction, purpose, meaning…
This is a complicated idea. Where can we find purpose? I think as a society, we are beginning to collectively agree that we have control over what we do with our lives. Sure, some people settle and get stuck in jobs they hate, houses in bad neighborhoods, and relationships that are unhealthy. But what they don’t accept is the responsibility that they have for staying in those ‘spaces.’
We, especially in the Western Culture, are becoming increasingly aware of the idea that we should do what it is we are passionate about. This is not to be confused with laziness or addiction. A pot-smoker may be passionate about smoking pot…but that (in my opinion) does not constitute a significant pursuit in life. If that works for you, please drop a comment below, I’d love to hear your story. And selecting the pseudoscience area of study such as gender studies because of…well I don’t know why anyone would take those classes…but this is a ridiculous pursuit. However, I have met some connections on LinkedIn that have degrees in gender and women’s studies (why is there no gender and men’s studies) that have been largely successful. But this is, in my opinion, a passing fad and will hopefully dissolve before dangerous legislation gets passed (re: C16 in Canada).
Finding ones purpose usually takes time. But to have one so concrete just to lose it, well, dang. I don’t know how to explain that. I do know that I am only 36 and I have plenty of time to work it out, but my time is finite just like anyone else’s. Hopefully my readings and blogging will help me find what I am seeking.
So, we have many entrepreneurs (I always have trouble spelling that word) that will tell you that college is unnecessary and you can do great things without it. While this can be true in some cases, many times you need that paper or those initials after your name to be able to pursue certain careers/passions. Personally I think it is a ridiculously lengthy process, but necessary. I can give reasons for each.
Why is the process so lengthy and demanding? Because if it weren’t, we would have a society saturated with degrees and that would render them essentially useless (which is about where we are with undergraduate degrees. It takes a masters or higher these days to get into the upper 5 digit (70k+) job market. But with the prevalence of online education and “degree mills,” soon masters degrees will be a dime a dozen. Still, it takes time and money, so not everyone goes that route. Nor should they. We need people in all levels of the workforce, and not everyone needs to know how to read, write, and perform research to do many jobs. On the upside, a college education exposes one to ideas and knowledge that those without will not get unless they perform reading and research on their own (which I fall into both categories, more on that below).
Why degrees are frustrating and arguably a waste of time and money… This is an easy target, but I have some great stuff. Firstly, what in the absolute heck is going on with our education system that people go into sometimes life-long debt just to get a job?!! College should be free for anyone and everyone that maintains a 3.0 or higher. Sorry for those under that cutoff, but college should be reserved for those that care, work hard, and are prepared for it. Just a theory, but I believe it’s sound. Horribly ignorant and almost intellectually disabled sports stars go to school for free and pass classes that they don’t even attend…because they have talent (that makes the school money…it’s always about the money). No offense to these guys, better for them than society.
Second part to the above answer… waste of time. I am paying a system that then pays an individual to give me their ideologies and opinions on any given subject. This isn’t universal, there are many great science minded professors out there. But in the general counseling programs…waste-of-time. Also, and I know this is going to sound grandiose, I believe that the entire PhD or PsyD process is too lengthy, expensive, and unnecessary. And maybe this is different coming from a 36 year old that has been through some wild sh##, but I find that much of what I am being taught is impractical, outdated, and unnecessary for what I want (or did want) to do. Jay Shetty stated that most people don’t even figure out what they want to do with their lives until their mid-thirties.
I think there should be an accelerated doctoral program for those of us that have been reading, living, and researching psychology and philosophy for greater than two decades. Take a test, write a dissertation, defend said dissertation, and get out there and start making a difference. Back before 1900 (and maybe a little after), people used to practice something, and throw a sign up that said Doctor [of whatever] and that was perfectly acceptable. Many were highly competent, and many were not. So, regulation of licenses are necessary…but a one size fits all process is not only ridiculous, it’s costing many people a fortune that could otherwise be out there making a difference. But hey, let’s keep paying the machine for paper.
Now that I got that out of my system…what is meaning and how do we find ours? Easy answer…I have no solid answer. But I do have theories… Meaning is dependent on the individual, fundamentally, but also highly dependent on how that individual interacts with their environment and more importantly, society/humanity. When I contemplate meaning, I don’t generally start with the Bible or thinking about God’s plan for me (though maybe that should be the first step…hmmm…). I usually start with thinking about what I can contribute to others… “What is it that I have that I can share or teach to other people?” Well, lots. So we bring passion and purpose into the mix…and my brain has been freezing recently. At the beginning of last month (Feb 2019), I would have given a concrete answer..I want to help at-risk youth overcome adversity, specifically addiction, and to study brains to learn what patterns or activities are associated with different thoughts and behaviors.
However, like I stated earlier, I have lost my purpose. My priorities are jumbled, but more clear. My kids have become my number one priority, and being their father has given my life meaning and some semblance of purpose. But what else? A person has to work, right? Volunteer? Missionary? Lawyer? Doctor? (I just added those last two for effect, I have no wish to be either, in the strictest sense). I actually do want to be a Doctor, but not a Medicinal Practitioner. If I were to go medicine, I would do psychiatry. If you read my previous blog, you’ll see that I’ve had my fill of death and destruction. I want to contribute to prevention and helping, not rolling the dice with someone’s life hanging in the balance by the minute. No way. Not one more, God willing. I can’t imagine getting a child in the ER or ICU and working for hours (or minutes which seem like hours) and it turns out that it was all futile.
But I have much to offer, I just need to read, pray, interact, think, meditate, and listen for God’s calling to see which way that I need to go.
This has been a circus of a month…and I have learned a great deal about myself and my life. I’ve also learned that I am clueless about many aspects of myself and my life. Things I thought I understood and had control of, I no realize that I was way off and I am still a student of my own consciousness. And for me, that’s a decent place to be.
I don’t know how often I will be writing a blog, I’ll shoot for once a week but I don’t know. I have difficulty sitting for long periods, laying for long periods, etc… So imagine how long this took to write.
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