In every adult there lurks a child – an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed and calls for unceasing care, attention and education. That is the part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole.
Now this took me by surprise.
I woke up this morning and realized I’ve logged six months of Meaning Mondays, give or take. I’ve never been a stickler for exact numbers, but I do know the year’s mid-point arrives in a few days. And I’ve written on most Mondays. So that’s good enough for me.
Then I noticed something else. This is my 99th post.
That little factoid spurred my imagination to trip on all things 99: 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, Agent 99, the 99 Cents Only Store, Wayne Gretzky’s number, 99, retired in 1999, and that old throwback of a road here in California – Highway 99. Actually, many states have a Route 99, but I’m thinking of the one that traverses the San Joaquin Valley from North to South.
Anyway, I know it’s customary to pause and reflect at the 100-post mark, but for some reason I feel the urge to stretch my legs at this intersection of six months of Meaning Mondays and 99 adventures in pressing “publish.” There seems to be a certain behind-the-scenes symmetry going on here, two parallel lines unexpectedly meeting for a moment in time.
And what these two lines are telling me is that a philosophy is emerging. I hesitate to say it’s my philosophy for how to live a meaningful life, since that sounds a bit too “expert” for my taste.
Because the last thing I want to be is another boring expert telling you how to live your life.
If you’re like me, you’re already overwhelmed by the reams of advice that’s out there. The programs and products. Gimmicks and guides. Systems and strategies.
Once I shut all that out, though, what I discover, from these months of writing and meaning making, is that the things that are real, that are truly helpful, are actually quite simple.
Not always easy to put into practice, mind you, but simple and basic in their form. Ancient wisdom, really, passed down through the ages.
Here’s how they’re all adding up for me:
- ALLOW ALL PARTS OF YOU TO HAVE SPACE AT THE TABLE. The waif and the warrior. The seeker and the scoundrel. The infinite number of inner characters that exist deep within you. Not all pretty, to be sure, but worth getting to know and understand. Some will feel more comfortable than others, but as we mature, one of life’s calls is to move towards wholeness, by moving beyond what’s comfortable and known.
- PURSUE PURPOSELESS PLAY. Give yourself over to it. Enter into a timeless world. Experience true freedom.
- MAKE RITUAL A PART OF LIFE. Rituals foster hopefulness, choice, and action. And during times of transition they help us make sense out of paradox.
- BE MINDFUL OF COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR. I’m just about convinced that we’re all compulsive about something. Maybe we haven’t reached the point where it alters our lives noticeably. Or perhaps it’s not one of those widely recognized addictions, like drugs and alcohol. But it’s there. And we have so many ways to compulsively check out: television, shopping, eating, blogging, organizing, social networking, cleaning, working, to name a few. Any one of them can steal our time and keep us from living a full, rich life.
- FEEL YOUR FEELINGS. All of them. Don’t deny them or go looking for a “better” feeling. Doing so opens the door to compulsive behavior (see above).
- NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS IN REAL SPACE AND REAL TIME. Cultivate Refrigerator Rights. Have deep talks. Long walks. Telephone calls. Thoughts shared. Souls bared. Private names. All those photos up on the walls. With love, filling the days. (Thanks, Stephen Sondheim!)
- EMBRACE CREATIVITY AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT CREATION REQUIRES LETTING GO. Letting go is like opening the window to a fresh, new breeze, which brings with it vision, originality, and imagination.
- CONSIDER THAT LESS IS SOMETIMES MORE. AND SMALL IS GOOD. Contrary to popular opinion, you needn’t dream big, go for the gold, or be all you can be. Such catchphrases are merely the detritus of an inflated and fame-obsessed world. What you can do instead, and what will work far better, is to start right where you are. Be yourself, because you’re fine just the way you are. Then put one foot on the path, and let it unfold.
- PERMIT YOURSELF TO BE A NOVICE. You don’t have to know what you’re doing. You don’t have to wait in order to start doing something. You can find out what you’re doing by doing it. (Thanks, Joe the Quilter!)
- PRACTICE THE FOUR HEALING SALVES. Singing. Dancing. Storytelling. Silence.
- GO TO NATURE WHEN YOU’RE IN NEED OF RENEWAL.
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Sleep about eight hours every night. Eat moderately and in balance. Exercise your body. Did I mention sleep? OK, I almost left #12 off the list, reasoning that if you were doing everything else, taking care of yourself would flow effortlessly. Not so, however. I’ve recently realized how much I’ve shorted myself on sleep in particular, and how that affects all the rest of it. So this is here especially for me.
There you have it. The culmination of six months of meaning making and 99 blog posts.
Now, I’m off to spend time in nature, play, practice the healing salves, and take care of myself. I may find my way to an internet connection only once or twice this week, but I’d still love to hear from you.
Please share your thoughts about my philosophy.
And do you have a philosophy for living a meaningful life? If so, what is it?
And how are you doing with it?
WHY NOT START NOW?