Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Crisis of What Might Have Been

Have I done all that I could have done?

That question haunts lives. That question leads to rash decisions to change everything. That question is the root of the life crisis, whenever it may happen. It is in resolving that question that we either find peace or our undoing.

Popular culture has given us a strange view of success, seeing it as an end in and of itself. The “happily every after” formulaic ending dismisses all future storms and trials and gives the erroneous impression that should one perform similar feats in one’s life, the same formulaic, dismissive ending awaits.

History, however, shows that there are no endings in a life, other than the actual ending of life. No amount of prior success can cause one to gloss candidly over a current struggle. Ronald Reagan attained fame as an actor and became a president beloved and revered by many – yet, he faced a battle with Alzheimer’s as his life drew to a close. A harsh, cold winter to close out a life that knew a brilliant summer and fall. Abraham Lincoln never gave up in his political struggles and became elected president – twice – and then his life ended in an agonizing day of pain following a fatal gunshot wound. Helen Keller learned how to communicate, a triumph for sure, but her struggle for workers’ rights goes largely ignored.

Success is all in how one chooses to measure success. There are the false standards of the world that only measure to a point and then ignore subsequent pains. Then there are standards we can choose in our own hearts. I prefer the latter.

So what standards do I select? Moral ones. If I can live my life and keep my soul intact, if I can shine it up after it’s taken some damages, if I can get clean and sober and stay clean and sober, then I am succeeding. If I can help other people, if I can be kind, if I can be a good person where I am, then I am a success.

What might have been different in my life? Lots of things. Would I be more successful by worldly standards with different choices? Certainly. Would I have been more successful by my own moral standards? No, and quite possibly I would have had need to jettison those moral standards in order to rationalize what I might have done to attain worldly success.

Successful lives, according to worldly standards, are typically a result of blind luck or criminal intent. Success from my standard can be found in finding joy in small moments and in being kind to people who won’t do anything for me in return. With the wrong view of life, it is possible to be completely bored with a fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower and with the right view, to be completely satisfied with watching an ant make his rounds.

I’ve seen no-talents fall blindly into success and geniuses forced to keep their day jobs. I’ve seen criminals praised for their business acumen and truly talented individuals completely ignored as they quietly heal lives. Asking what might have been indicates a yearning for the world and its fickle treasures. Being at peace with decisions made, even if those decisions could have been better, is the key to being at peace with one’s life, which I consider to be success.

Changes are still possible in any life. But choose those changes carefully. Peace and happiness are more important than money and power. True success is intrinsic and the crisis of what might have been is resolved successfully in finding the peace of the just and charitable soul.

25 March 2015, 12:05 PM

I have had moments in my life
That now are real and solid dreams
Moments of repeated stillness
The same breeze, differently flavored
The same leaves, differently colored
My eyes dreaming along with
The moment.
Heaven is made of the peace of
Those moments.

Not of This World

There are many things wrong in the world, all of them because of humans. It’s not even all the humans doing the things that make the world a harsh, unfair, imperfect place. Relatively few people are involved in the destruction of things for their own benefit: very few are involved in murdering the world and those who live in it for their gain. The rest of humanity is doing just fine, or would be doing just fine, were it not for the consumers and destroyers of the world.

There is no restriction on who will or will not be evil: men may choose for themselves if they will follow a path of self-sacrificing love or of prideful hate. There is a consequence in every choice, and those who choose evil will discover to their horror what an illusion they chased after. Wealth and power are illusions. There is no way we can truly own anything, although there are ways we can deprive others. There is no way we can have true power without love, although we can compel others with hate. In the world to come, we will have everything we need and want nothing more, so there will be no ownership. In the world to come, others will be glad to do anything we ask, and we will be glad to do the same for others, so there will be no power.

If there is power, it will be love, and not the power of the world. If there is ownership, it will be our own minds, souls, and the consequences of our choices which we cannot give away, ever, so there will be no ownership of the world. Those who cling to this world in this life will find it hard or even impossible to be loving, for clinging to the world is evil. It is the service of evil to demand everything for the self. Those who can let go of the world in this life will find it hard or even impossible to be hateful, for letting go of the world is love. It is the service of love to offer everything of the self unto others.

I do not want the wealth or power of this world. I want the love that is not of this world.