Thursday, September 18, 2008

Learning to save oneself

How does one do that? How do we take that first step? We need to really see ourselves, our issues and limitations. It’s not easy to do this. That kind of honesty can be painful. We usually choose the easier way. We wind up lying to ourselves most of the time. We try to mask problems or the unhappiness that we feel. We often go numb and stop caring because it’s easier than being repeatedly disappointed or hurt. We find different ways to distract ourselves from the problems that we face.
How do you find the impetus to save yourself? How do you live your best life possible? This is what I’m trying to figure out. What are real life ways to improve one’s life? Are there simple steps that can be followed? Can we do this without spending a fortune on motivational books or psycho-therapy? I suppose the first step is to take stock of your life. We can create a pro and con list just like Charles Darwin.
We can set up goals. They can be the dreams that we had as children. Make a list of the things that you wanted to achieve. See if you have achieved those goals. If not, think about whether that goal is still important to you. If it is, then it goes on the list. Now is the time to add any new goals that you would like to achieve. They can be simple ones to start with, and you can build on them. For some inspiration on this subject look into Randy Pausch. Mr. Pausch talks about achieving our childhood dreams in The Last Lecture.
Pausch described his childhood as a happy one. Most of us are not that fortunate. It’s strange to look back on those days. I can’t remember having the childhood dreams that most do. I didn’t dream of being a movie star or famous. I guess I was too practical for my own good. We weren’t raised to be dreamers. We were told in words and actions, that we needed to work hard in order to be successful. It started with school. Work hard and you can go to college. That lead to work hard in college, so you can get a good job. Followed by work hard at you job, and you can someday buy your own home. There was never any talk about dreams just hard work. What wasn’t spoken was, be successful and I will be proud of you.
I wanted my father to be proud of me. I let that desire shape what I thought I wanted. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A lawyer, I would say when I was asked. My father would smile, something that didn’t come easily to him. After sending 5 of his 6 children to college, he dreamt that one of us would end up a doctor or a lawyer. He didn’t get his wish.
While at De Paul, I realized that I wanted to make art. I knew that it wasn’t practical, but I didn’t want to live a life of regrets. I was almost done with my B.A., but I took that chance that Pausch talks about. I graduated with a B.F.A. from SAIC. During my 20s, I tried to live this life of no regrets. I took chances. I traveled alone to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Paris, and Jamaica. My family and friends couldn’t believe that would get on the plane alone and just go to these places were I knew no one. I loved it. My 30s is another story…
I didn’t have a revelation after watching Randy Pausch’s lecture. I supposed my epiphany was realizing that in less than a year I was going to turn 40. I got married, bought a house, babies were born, relatives died, and layoffs happened. Yet it seems as though I went through all of it in an absent sort of way. I existed in this life but I wasn’t living it.
I’m trying to find my path on this life journey. I’m 39 years old. I feel like I lost a decade of my life and I don’t want my 40s to be more of the same. I’m acknowledging my failings, they are many. I’m making a commitment to improve my life and that of my family’s. If you are interested in doing the same this may provide some inspiration. I am working on completing the pertinent changes. It’s a beginning on my quest to live the best life possible.

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