The following is adapted from an essay “Cultivating Functional Lives” in my book
“Of Paradise Despised… and lives that bought into a lie”.
This, and other FigTree Books, are available for purchase on this site.
Comes that season when
Like lilies in Spring
We burst forth…
Shedding our dormancy…
And give vitality to the flora
That expresses our essence…
What do you bring to the table in your own life, and in your relationships?
This is without doubt a jolting question for many. It forces a sense of personal accountability that most of us would rather defer indefinitely. Despite the inherent discomforts of this reminder that we must ultimately be responsible for the lives we lead, we must proceed with truthfully facing up to the issues therein.
Do you see real value in yourself, or are you at the mercy of others with specific regard to this question? Have you done the work necessary to establish your own viability in this world; or have you cultivated the assumption that that is up to someone else to do for you? Please understand that as long as you are not able to satisfactorily answer these questions – and by that I mean give the kind of answers that are self-validating – your life is at risk.
Like lilies in Spring, this is a season to burst forth and express the essential you. It is a time to redefine yourself by populating your life with a set of values that expresses your true worth in the world. Making yourself somebody in this world is a task only you can accomplish for yourself. This task must be treated as nothing less than a sacred duty; one not to be ignored, since the viability of your personhood depends on it. If you are not somebody in your own estimate of yourself, then you not only run the risk of being someone else’s body, your mind will not be yours either. This, my friends, places you in a most unfortunate circumstance.
The various circumstances of our lives require that we be willing to let others into the world that we inhabit. So here is the thing… If we present as nonentities in that world, then allowing others to come in will require the kind of personal courage that only a few are able to muster. One of the reasons that so many of us bequeath our attention and our lives to the consumerism around us is that at our core we do not believe our own lives are worth much. We surrender to a preoccupation with a vicarious existence because we hate our own lives as they are, and in many instances, we really do not like ourselves.
An enduring challenge of our life experience becomes that of cultivating a personhood that we can affirm with love. How do we find our way back to ourselves, and by so doing rescue ourselves from that essential barrenness that a rabid consumerism continuously beckons us to? I want to suggest a simple way forward that I believe will be useful in this regard. Find a cause around you that you can serve. Give yourself to the greater good, and in so doing, validate your existence. The old wisdom is absolutely true: you live in vain, as long as you are living for yourself only.
Instead of investing your energies in the superfluous gathering of stuff to yourself, find a way to give of yourself in ways that build up the lives of those who are disadvantaged in the world. Invest in a durable and loving cause. In the process of doing that you will find the validation you seek in ways you never dreamt of; and in the process you will receive a stamp of approval from the universal force for good. Just do it. Act in faith. Believe that everything you do to help build up someone else’s life will return to you… and it will… much multiplied. You will find and validate your own life when you give of yourself in service to others.
Now I said my suggestion is simple, this does not mean that it is easy to do. Many people, in their desire to do some good in the world, fall into the trap of attempting to do for others what they should be doing for themselves. A hungry, homeless person may need the immediate relief of a gift of food and shelter. Our ultimate salvation lies in our ability to create an economy that will provide for our most basic needs.
The empowerment of persons is a process that should call participants into an honest evaluation of their circumstance. It should require those who are able to take the initiative in their own development. Anything that is given can be taken.That which the person develops as an act of consciousness, becomes a resource that cannot be taken away. Our goal should be the cultivation of that same process of self-validation in others that let us out of our own precarious circumstance.
Roy Alexander Graham. President/CEO, FIGTREE ENTERPRISES, INC.
Copyright 2017. Figtree Enterprises, Inc.