Friday, January 23, 2015

Beneath the Surface of Life

"Profound Mystery"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

In this morning's New York Times I came across an extremely interesting observation about today's popular culture (especially in the West). The article suggested that the everyday lives of many people nowadays are lived "on the surface," with little or no reflection about how they understand the "real" meaning of life. We skim across the surface without ever reflecting on what is underneath. 

Many people today keep themselves very "busy" in the ordinary routine of everyday living -  busy at school, work, shopping, busy at home surfing the web, busy texting, busy watching the big game. Many people use the  busyness of everyday living as an excuse for not taking time to stop and reflect on their values and beliefs, their worldview, whether or not they have a moral compass in life or in what direction their compass points. 

I actually think there is great wisdom in this observation and I also believe that this is perhaps why so many people nowadays feel lost, alone, maybe even abandoned. This is what happens when you try to navigate through life without a rudder or an anchor to help keep you grounded and focused.

When the New Year dawned a few weeks back, lots of people sat down and made a list of resolutions to be acted upon in 2015. My guess is that many of those resolutions have already been abandoned - trips to the gym have been suspended, it's back to the old diet.  And so before January comes to an end it seems to me that rather than make more resolutions, we might all do well to take this time at the beginning of a new year to go beneath the surface of our lives and ask ourselves some probing questions that might help direct the course of our path for the year to come. 

The New York Times article I just read posed some very interesting "beneath the surface" questions, and this morning I have been sitting here in my meditation garden reflecting on them:

Who or what matters most to you?
What are your deepest values?
What makes your life really worth living?

In some sense I think abut these questions all the time - I write a daily blog that attempts to "get at" some of these questions, scratching beneath the surface, looking for deeper truth and greater wisdom. However, I also realized today that I must be careful not to answer these probing questions too quickly or too glibly. 

So today, before this New Year isn't so new any more, I am taking time away from the busy routine of my own life to ponder these questions anew, clearing away how I may have answered these very same questions last year. After all, much has happened in a year, the world is different and so am I. 

Who are what really matters to me? What are my deepest values and what makes my life really worth living?  

It's a great way to begin another year. 

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