How should you live your lives? If you were to ask 20 people how to live life, you will probably get 20 different answers. And unless these people are just like you, their answers may not be your heart’s desire. In truth, no one can tell you how to live your life. They can only tell you how they lived theirs. Thus, you cannot find the answer to this important question from others. You may get clues and pointers, but the real answer lies deep within you. Only when you follow your heart’s desire will you have had a life that is worth living.
The Madman by Khalil Gibran
It was in the garden of a madhouse that I met a youth with a face pale and lovely and full of wonder. And I sat beside him upon the bench, and I said, “Why are you here?”
And he looked at me in astonishment, and he said, “It is an unseemly question, yet I will answer you. My father would make of me a reproduction of himself; so also would my uncle. My mother would have me the image of her seafaring husband as the perfect example for me to follow. My brother thinks I should be like him, a fine athlete.
“And my teachers also, the doctor of philosophy, and the music-master, and the logician, they too were determined, and each would have me but a reflection of his own face in a mirror.
“Therefore I came to this place. I find it more sane here. At least, I can be myself.”
Then of a sudden he turned to me and he said, “But tell me, were you also driven to this place by education and good counsel?”
And I answered, “No, I am a visitor.”
And he answered, “Oh, you are one of those who live in the madhouse on the other side of the wall.”
As Khalil Gibran points out, everyone has their own ideas of how things should be. This is especially so when it comes to deciding what is best for their loved ones. But what applies to someone may not necessarily apply to others. This is simply because we are unique and have different experiences.
While it is tempting to think that our parents, teachers, friends and experts know better, in truth, this is not always the case. Experts are also human and prone to error. Just look at the crisis in Japan. There are so many conflicting views about radioactivity in the disaster areas. The opinion of others may have their merit, but we must be careful not to follow their advice blindly.
We all have unique roles to play in this world. No one else can live our lives for us because they lack our talents, interests and motivations. Interestingly, some of these roles are unique to the times. For example, blogging is possible today but not in the medieval ages. What might have made sense a generation ago might not make sense now. Why then should we settle for living the lives and dreams of others? Why should we do something for which we feel no interest or passion? Can we live fulfilling lives or fulfil our unique roles if we live in such a manner? The answer is likely to be no.
The need to earn a living might be a compelling reason to put our dreams on hold. But in truth, the idea of job security is an illusion. We need only look at the crisis in Japan and the civil war in Libya to realize that these things could happen anywhere in the world. If change is the only constant in life, then survival means being able to adapt as change happens. Are you likelier to adapt doing something you love or something you dislike? Which comes more naturally?
The Only Opinion That Matters
When it comes down to the crunch, the only opinion that truly matters is yours. This is especially so when it comes to living your own life. After all, who else but you can decide your own fate and destiny? Others can tell you what to do, but you have to choose whether to adopt their well-meaning counsel or not.
Bear in mind, the greatest harm can result from the best intentions. This often happens if you try to be something that you are not by following the kindly advice of others. What may work for someone might be a disaster for another. Such is the complexity of life where we have to forge our own path and find our own way because we are unique.
Finding the Naturalness of Your Way
There is a Tao to everything in this world. By Tao I mean a natural way of doing things that is in line with the times and circumstances. Following the Tao of something does not mean there is no effort on your part. It just means that you get greater results for the effort you put in. Albert Einstein found his calling as a scientist. Henry Ford was a great industrialist. Think of it this way, when you find the Tao, you go with the flow instead of struggling against the current.
The only life that matters is the one we are living now. Rise up and live your life the way you want to live it. To do otherwise would be madness.
Is your life a reflection of someone else’s? Or are you living your life on your own terms and choices? How do you deal with the well-meaning advice of others? Do share your thoughts and comments below.