Looking upon my bookshelf this morning I pull down Scott Peck’s ‘The Road Less Traveled‘. It is yellowed, old, dog-eared. This was an important book for me when I got out of the Marines and started college at University of Arkansas at Monticello. At the time I was pre-med and studying to be an EMT as well. I wanted to be a psychiatrist.
On the last page I had written the following ‘goals’ about myself:
- Become proactive
- Learn Sign Language
- Work with abused children/spouses
- Increase my medical knowledge
Well, these aren’t really good goals. What does ‘become proactive’ mean? How would I know? They aren’t specific, measurable, specific items that can be classified as goals.
Currently I use a variety of tools in my GTD workflow and I’ve become more adept at handling projects and tasks. While it wasn’t a well-defined goal, I’ve fulfilled the spirit of what I meant in my ‘be proactive’ goal.
I do not remember the drives or reasons for listing ‘work with abused children/spouses’ down. What is surprise to me is that it has been a circuitous and meandering route to work in domestic violence. I didn’t set out to work specifically with this population but sort of found myself here and doing well and (hopefully) making a positive difference. Though I work specifically with batterers, I have occasionally been contacted by victims and survivors of domestic violence and done what I could.
There has been no impetus to learn ASL. This goal never came to be.
And my medical knowledge… technically this has been accomplished as soon as I learned that vitamin C doesn’t rid our body of the common cold. This was a poorly written goal. Since I am no longer pre-med I can satisfy this portion with old episodes of ER (I’m being facetious).
Of all the pages, one paragraph is outlined in the book:
But most of us feel our loneliness to be painful and yearn to escape from behind the walls of our individual identities to a condition in which we can be more unified with the world outside of ourselves. The experience of falling in love allows us this escape- temporarily. The essence of the phenomenon of falling in love is a sudden collapse of a section of an individual’s ego boundaries, permitting one to merge his or her identity with that of another person. The sudden release of oneself from oneself, the explosive pouring out of oneself into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries is experienced by most of us as ecstatic. We and our beloved are one! Loneliness is no more!
Reading this brings back memories. I had a LOT of growing to do, a great amount to learn. I’d learn that intensity does not equal knowledge and that convictions can be wrong or untimely. Though something can be truly painful, we all endure life’s hardships and tribulations. It isn’t worthy of our lives to avoid pain, for this as unrealistic as trying to avoid the light of the sun. No, what is important is how we handle that pain, what meanings we derive and instill into our experiences.
The thing about meaning is that they are not inherent in the world around us, in the events that transpire around us. Instead they are projected by our soul onto the world’s events around us in doing so reflect back onto ourselves. We know ourselves and our souls by how we interact with the universe around us.
It is within us to create our soul, and thereby the universe within which we live.