As I ponder the latest twist and turns of my own adventures though life, it seems at moments like these that the biggest challenges we face on a daily basis requires us to confront and overcome “self” and “selfishness” in order to rise above the events of the day. It is so easy to fall into a “Why me?” routine when things don’t work out well, and when they do – we want to keep all the goodness that we can for ourselves and not share with others that are making do with less.
Life doesn’t keep track of winners and losers in the end analysis; as we will all leave this world the same way we entered it – naked and dependant on others for much of what we needed while living life. Yet there is so much temptation to measure up to others, to have as much or more than the next guy and to be able to write a better Christmas letter full of outstanding news throughout the past year. But that isn’t how life works. We have our own individual journey to make with our own unique struggles and joys along the way. It is not possible to compare each other’s lives as if produce in the farmer’s market, because no part of our individual experience and struggles in life can possibly translate directly to someone else’s life or circumstance.
Looking at someone else’s life or situation from the outside has no relationship with “knowing” or “experiencing” that person’s life. What looks idyllic to one may be a personal “hell” to another. The saying, “to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” is perfectly valid, because we don’t know what their struggles are; and even if they share them with us we will never really know the challenges and issues of someone else’s life. We just can’t know. We can’t share their experience.
Yet people still try to measure their lives against some “ideal” standard template – someone’s perception of what life should look like – as if that was even possible. Magazine covers feature “perfect people” with “perfect lives,” who are “perfectly happy” and setting “perfect goals” to ensure a “perfect future” and a “perfect outcome”…or are they? If we spend our time always looking for reassurance that we are keeping up with the Joneses – or on par with the Smiths; we will miss out on living meaningful lives with purpose and substance centered on those very people in our own lives that should be the focus of both our joy and attention. In the end it isn’t about “us” at all. It’s about everyone around us in a life that we don’t own at all – but merely share with the hearts that journey with us. Hearts going the same way…same day.
So I say to all of you who share my path through life – for a moment or for a lifetime; I’m happy to share this journey together with you, and I hope that at the end of the day we will all have become better people for the shared experience. And the issue that started my pondering? Just the diagnosis this week of an autoimmune chronic skin disorder that isn’t particular fun to have, but I have it none the less. So I’ll add it to my pile of “problems” that I’d like to one day not have to deal with anymore and perhaps after 3 to 5 years of successful treatment it will then just go away. But until then it’s just another part of my personal equation of “positives” and “negatives” that life sends my way…in what I call, “Life, Love and the Human Condition.”