In our second installment I began by listing the 6 questions we all must deal with as we develop our lives.
Blogger Jonathan Cottrell in his article entitled; Who Before Why – Reconsidering which comes first, notes for us that while organizations would choose Why, the individual should always begin with Who. Sounds right for me, how bout you?
Cottrell comments that; While our personal Whats and Hows will frequently change with time (that’s cool, glad to read that), how we live our lives will invariably be built upon our identity.
What is identity? It’s about you, it’s about me, and any others we’ll let into our orbits. An individual identity is the distinguishing character or personality of that individual. Essentially it seems to be about our uniqueness. Which might end up in the arena of our uncommonness.
I love our language, how simply it can turn on a dime and challenge our sensibilities.
So, Who Are You?
Someone once said that each of us are both more than we are and less than we are. While that doesn’t fully answer the question of life it at least gives us all a common denominator. Living isn’t about building, so much as it is about becoming. And before we conclude this post I’ll attempt to explain why I believe that becoming always will always trump building.
For now I want to return to the book I mentioned in my last post; The Second Mountain (TSM) by the journalist and author David Brooks. TSM is another metaphor for the second half of life which, given the days, many among us will eventually face. In the introduction, Brooks takes a couple of pages to unpack the question; Why are we here?
Those of us who are writers work out our stuff in public, even under the guise of pretending to write about someone else. In other words, we try to teach what it is that we really need to learn. My first mountain was an insanely lucky one. I achieved far more professional success than I ever expected to. But that climb turned me into a certain sort of person…..I sidestepped the responsibilities of relationships…..When I look back on the errors and failures and sins of my life, they tend to be failures of omission, failures to truly show up for the people I should have been close to. They tend to be the sins of withdrawal, evasion, workaholism, conflict avoidance, failure to empathize, and a failure to express myself openly…..I prioritized time over people and productivity over relationships which became a recurring motif in my life.
We could say that Brooks’ unpacking of his first mountain to climb focused on building without proper depth on becoming. Perhaps all of us can see through Brooks’ confession a similar approach to the first half of our own lives? My guess is we probably do. How about you? Have you always and in every way put First Things First?
Back to Jonathan Cottrell. “Unfortunately, who we are is complicated. Self -discovery is a long process, arguably a lifelong process.” Those complications are there with purpose. They have within them the ability to challenge us. Think of them as you would think of a Coach not a Cheerleader, if you get my point. The complexity of life is a gift in many ways. We should embrace them as we scale the First Mountain of Life for they are the tests and examinations which must be proven in our lives in order for us to move with confidence on to the Base Camp at the bottom of that Second Mountain.
Even as we scale that First Mountain, what Richard Rohr in his book Falling Upward calls The First Half Of Life, we must be aware that in many ways we are not prepared for what we are about to undertake. As Rohr notes; “We are better at rushing to judgment and demanding a complete resolution to things before we have learned what they have to teach us.” This is a huge problem in the Western world today, especially for men. I’ll introduce why it is so in my next post early next week
For now, we will move to some closure with two points worth considering.
First, each and every human being is individually called upon to become who she or he is created to be. There’s only one of YOU! Imagine what this world would be missing if YOU were not here to fulfill that role?
I like this from Eugene Peterson who reminds us that – We’re here to give witness to where life comes from, how it develops, and how we enter it. Give these 18 words a serious look this weekend. Do it now if you are like me, a procrastinator.
Second: Who we are, and hopefully, who we are becoming, has taken on a new meaning for living the life we have been given.
Take time this weekend to list 3 ways in which you have found “new meaning for living life” from either your First or Second Mountain.
I’d love to hear from some of you who will take up this work of contemplating what the pieces and parts are of a life well lived.
See you early next week!