Wednesday, April 25

Completing the foundation

I'm reading this book, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu again .

And again, a paragraph just stops me and makes me want to share it with you:

Suddenly I saw myself twenty years in the future saying the same thing over and over to students who stayed the same age, and I couldn't believe that was what I had planned on. It's hard sometimes to remember why we do anything in the first place. It's nice to think there's a purpose, or even a real decision that turns everything in one direction, but that's not always true, is it? We just fall into our lives. How did you get to own a grocery store?

And well, I must respond also. I'm not going to tell you how I got to own a grocery store. I don't own a grocery store. But it's not an accident that I do the work I do and not really an accident that I do what I do where I do it. I don't believe we just happen to fall into our lives. We make decisions everyday. We make choices. And we can change our minds. Things around us can change.

The character in the book here is talking about why she stopped being a professor and her reasons are right for her, I suppose. I'm only 55 pages in and she's not the most sympathetic character at the moment. But we can't go around saying, "we just fall into our lives." You don't have to read the Purpose-Driven Life to know that you need some type of purpose or goals in your life.

Otherwise, how do you know when you're drifting off course. Because, at least in my life, things don't just happen "suddenly." As that quote says. There's either the straw that breaks the camel's back or the brick that completes the foundation. And then the broken camel's back or the completed foundation is not the end. It's just the point where you move on from where you're at.

Maybe the straw that breaks the camel's back is also the brick that completes the foundation. It is the stone that the builder rejected. It becomes the head cornerstone. Perhaps this is all part of the creative process too.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I respect what you say. It's a linear way of thinking. Male ( I don't say that derogatorily). But my life has never flowed in a linear fashion. It's more circular, or circuitous. Imagine throwing a stone in the water and watching the waves ripple out, and then throwing another, and another...all the while the ripples overlap and merge, the energy transmuted and transformed...that is how I see life unfolding for me. I am all of those waves...

April 26, 2007 7:21 PM  
Blogger bl said...

Anonymous - I don't disagree with what you say. But I don't think it's different than what I'm saying either.

It's like the ripples you speak of. They emanate from the same source, the same rock.

Does that make sense?

I'm guess I'm trying to say that it would be hollow for me to say that I'm a victim of circumstances. I don't believe that. I believe I've created my circumstances. I'm not trapped.

April 26, 2007 9:36 PM  
Blogger R said...

I suppose that the difference between what you're saying about choosing goals and making decisions to match them, and what anonymous says isn't as much a difference between the sexes, as in the type of goals and how deliberately we move towards them.

I mean, if your goal is to have a circular, or circuitous life, and to allow things to happen to you instead of seeking out specific things like "I want to be a garbage collector in Houston," you can do that. You can choose to live and view your life: everyone's life has those ripples emenating from conscious decisions, but not everyone recognizes the differences between the stone waves and the wind waves.

A lot of times, it seems like people don't recognize the greater impact of the choices they make on a daily basis. Because they didn't anticipate the effects, they want to disavow the choice. Or, sometimes, they decide not to decide... which often enough is a way of choosing.

I suppose this is a very teacher-ly thing to say, but after working long enough with younger people, you get a lot of perspective on how the certain kinds of smaller choices they make tend to add up. It's also something you can realize after a lot of sailing. Or even after a lot of running, when how well you tie your shoes at the beginning of a long, cold race could impact your time in pretty significant ways.

April 30, 2007 12:48 PM  

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