Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Mid Life Crisis - Part 2

There was one precise thought that triggered the current state of confusion and entrapment I'm in... When I had this one thought little did I realize it would cause me to brood and disturb my whole outlook on life...

Recently, I was going through a gentle exercise routine that I do every few days. I used to work out almost daily but lack of time and proximity to a gym changed that. So, here I was on the floor after some stretching when in crept the thought, "I never get any time to relax!"

I read somewhere, perhaps when I was studying psychology during my undergrad, that our feelings are attached to our thoughts and that our emotions are triggered by our thought-lives. We don't feel unless we think first.

For me, that single thought grew like a weed in my mind and has caused me to doubt my value, worth and purpose. That single negative thought gradually and silently invaded my peace of mind. But now that I know that, why is it I can't ignore the thought - or the sense of uselessness? What's going on in my head now?

Well first, over the time of this past week, I've managed to shove the thinking to the back of my mind and get on with life without feelings of despair or confusion. But when I pause to reflect, I have to admit that my deepest dread is that twenty years of diligence and perfecting one craft, then another, will all boil down to the past twenty years of my professional life equating to having explored a hobby, rather than a pursuit of worthwhile purpose. I hate that notion! It removes an element of self respect. And I'm not sure what to do with that.

On the one hand, I'm sure that ruminations are worthwhile. According to my own philosophy, self-reflection is good... I will eventually come to a new place in my head, and I'll benefit from having learned and grown in this process called life. But I have to say that right now, I'm questioning the value of living a life of 'process'. I'm noticing that it never seems to end, and so I'm wondering if maybe it's self-indulgent and, frankly, pointless.

Now I've unveiled the heart of my mid life crisis: Is what I've been doing for the last 20 years worth doing? Or has it simply been a terrible waste of time, resources and energy?

I'm blessed with a brilliant family that I do seem to inspire. It helps me to think of them and to put the rest into perspective. But I had hoped I would make a greater contribution to the world. I confess that I do need a sense of purpose, a sense of contributing to the greater good, and if I'm not doing that - or haven't been doing that - then perhaps I've deluded myself and it's time to face facts, get a 'real' job and live a mundane but practically purposeful life.

'No pain, no gain' is an adage I've always endorsed. I've had my share of painful disappointments as has anyone, and that's all a part of living. But if I'm on the cusp of discovering I've wasted the last twenty years of my professional life and have little to show for it, if that is reality, that is a more bitter pill to swallow than I ever expected to taste. What do I do with that, if it is true? Where do I go from here?

On the positive side, the past isn't as important as what I do in the future. But that doesn't change the fact that I still I want to make a difference in the world and if how I've been going about it is fruitless, then what do I do now?

After last week's post I'm thankful for your fabulous feedback. Some commented, others emailed privately. I'm grateful to know people are reading, are interested and that they care. I also want to assure readers that, if I were really in a bad state, I'd not be willing - perhaps not even able - to write about it. So, dear readers, read on and if I say anything that strikes a chord with you then I've accomplished something. And if not, well then, at least I've tried.

I will look forward to next Thursday, and hope many good moments will pass between now and then, for us all. I'm stuck but I'm not dying! Maybe this inertia or the growing frustration will force a change in my circumstances, like a damn experiencing such immense pressure that, at last, it has no recourse but to give way and in so doing, a flood of fresh water will come gushing forth to cleanse and purify the old, dried riverbed.

Until next week...


Jeannie said...

First of all, Sarah, I hope you meant "dam," not "damn" -- or was that a Freudian slip? :-)

I'm kind of thinking out-loud here -- but I honestly don't think that in terms of our life as children of God, there is really such a thing as "waste" in the sense of total worthless futility. Everything we do and experience, every burst of progress and seemingly endless plateau, is part of the, well, COMPOST that enriches our lives and brings growth.

I have very similar feelings sometimes when I see those who came into my career area MUCH later than I did, take on greater roles and responsibilities and get more visibility (esp when those are people with whom I have a very close relationship), while I keep doing the same-old same-old. But in that state of mind I am reminded of 2 things: (1) comparisons are odious, and (2) nothing is wasted. In that story in the Bible about the loaves and fishes, the people were lavishly fed on these meager offerings yet there was a ton of food left over. So I am sure, Sarah, that there are baskets and baskets of good stuff there from your life that may not have been part of the direct spectacular feeding-the-world moment (though later they MAY prove to have been) but have some other purpose and won't be just tossed out as useless.

As our friend Yvonne likes to say, "Here endeth the lesson" -- and I close by saying I really admire and value your ponderings here. They WILL yield good fruit.

Sarah Tun said...

You know what Jeannie, that was totally a Freudian slip, b/c I didn't even notice it until you pointed it out. I do spell reasonably well so I'll give the credit to Freudian psychology!

Thanks for your on-track perspective. You are right!
I think so much of life's journey has to do with character building and so I take your point that nothing is wasted. But when I'm in a funk (I make sure I spell that one correctly!!) reason and faith can be sidelined momentarily by an overwhelming sense of futility. I've got two different things going on inside me - the pain, which I can ignore but I allow it to rise to consciousness in order to share it, and the knowledge that in the end clarity will come and the lessons of these days or weeks will prove valuable. In the meantime, I'm sharing the process. Through the opportunity to express what I feel I reduce some of its intensity and maybe I share something that will trigger insight in someone else.

Thanks so much for sharing. What you say reminds me of someone's made up word: comp-arrogance.
Whether someone achieves more or less than we do, is really irrelevant to our lives, because we all are unique with unique purpose and talent. As for me, right now, being totally honest, I'm just not too sure about my uniqueness or my talent. Nothing I can do about that, but it is giving me something to think about.

Best to you - until next time! (I think I just wrote another blog post by way of an answer!)