Why are we here, and what do we get in exchange for being human…? That’s the two-part question that consumes me all day, every day. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who worries about it. When I look around though, I sometimes feel like others don’t worry about it quite enough.
When I think of purpose and meaning, I don’t necessarily look for answers in faith or religion. I think faith and religion make a great framework — can offer useful guidelines in the search, but in finding purpose and meaning, I default to the three primary aspects that I think make me human…
I don’t see a need to look beyond those three. To be fully human, for me, can be found in maximizing these aspects of my life. And like a three-legged stool or three equal branches of a government, I encourage the three to work together, on behalf of a more complete whole.
Work is what I am are here for. I may be capable of, and I certainly may find enjoyment in what I do beyond work, but contributing to the whole of the machine is where it all begins. I can’t imagine not working. That’s not to say I enjoy every moment of my workday, though I’m grateful to do what I get to do for a living. I would rather flip burgers though, than to collect disability or unemployment without a legitimate need to. To not work when one is able, puts a greater strain on the system and all its other contributors, however so slight.
In the picture, all those slights add up.
I don’t say this in reference to people who have worked hard and been able to retire. They have earned their downtime. People who find reasons not to work though, that are not legitimate reasons, lose an entire aspect of being human — they lose one leg off their stool. Just my opinion.
From the checker at the grocery store, to the person on the other side of the fence, to the elderly mother I share my home with, all human connections are relationships. Some are brief — the man whose bike has a flat tire that I offer to help on the trail. Some relationships are occasional — the checker at the grocery store who I make small talk with a few times a week. Others still are ongoing — the clients who trust me with their time and money in exchange for my leadership and advice. Every person I interact with each day is a kind of relationship. I can’t imagine not working to maximize and promote every person I connect with each day, from the ones I connect with and may never see again, to the ones I will engage with over and over again.
How hard is it, I often ask myself, to try and keep my interactions positive and uplifting, even when facing difficult circumstances…? Confrontation begets frustration, which too often leads escalation. On a given day, my mood is forged as much from my human interactions as from anything I do or any outside circumstance. The more effort I put into keeping those interactions positive, the more likely I am to be in a better mood, though I acknowledge that those outside influences can alter a good mood quickly. That’s all the more reason to keep my human interactions positive.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of young people through the years, both professionally and peripherally through acts of volunteering. More than a few teenagers have felt my index finger pushing into their sternum as I’ve forcefully uttered the following sentiment…
Above all things, we are here for work and for relationships.
I’ve said it dozens of times through the years, to dozens of teens. There’s always some critical moment in the course a relationship with a teen when I’ve pulled that ace from my sleeve and dropped on them to their surprise. In hindsight, I have failed all of them by failing to mention creativity as an equal branch of self-government.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I received a book in the mail from my friend Judy. A workbook actually — a platform on which to draw, read, write stories, color, and reflect. One third of being human is being creative, I thought to myself. I have no memory of ever saying that to young person as I’ve driven home the importance of work and relationships. That won’t happen again. I’ll be quick to remind them that appreciating creativity — music, literature, art, and even well-made movies and television can be a creative outlet, but being creative is a necessary outlet.
Three equal branches of self-government…?
Three-legged stool of being human…?
Both are pretty cheesy analogies, I know. When it comes to finding purpose and meaning though, focusing my life on work, relationships, and creativity — and viewing them as having an equal influence in my life, has put me in better field position in finding fulfillment.
By the way, I didn’t necessarily write this for you. It could be that I wrote it for your children, your grandchildren, your neighbor’s children, or the kid who mows your lawn, so please feel free to share.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
15.3 mph avg speed
10 hours 58 minutes seat time
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne . Enjoy…!