Life Lessons

“This is Your Life…Right?”

Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes;
This is your life and today is all you’ve got now;
Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have;
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes

This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be?
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose?

 ~ This is Your Life performed by Switchfoot

THIS PAST THURSDAY NIGHT, September 29, 2011, is a night I will definitely have to remember for quite a long time—at least for the rest of my
college career, I sure will. The event was Acts2 Fellowship’s Welcome Night, and the moment I sat down, said hi to a neighbor, and simultaneously kicked back to see a great hilarious but thought-provoking skit, I was already developing this pre-conceived notion in my mind that this night was going to turn out great; and my predictions were all correct.

But one of the major highlights of the night, besides another serving of Korean BBQ, was Steve Kim’s investigative and deep-probing talk on the worth of a human soul and what it really means to live life to the fullest.

For just a moment if you will, let’s discard everything else in life that distracts us, like technology, food and sex. Why not ask the question, “If life was devoid of the necessities that people like Abraham Maslow would point out, like food, water, shelter, sleep and sex, what then, really makes a human life valuable?”

The logical answer most people would probably say intuitively is, “Not much” and I agree.

Steve at one point emphasized a verse from the Book of Mark:

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

~ Mark 8:36 (NIV)

Just hearing Steve say that verse…now that really struck me a few times because that point right there reminded me to do a reality check on well, myself.

I’ve always tried to be an exhibitionist, to say the very least, and over time, I’ve been immersing myself in this crazy teenage world of pop culture, but there were indeed intervals of time when I stopped to ask myself, “How am I doing with God? Am I really falling away from Him?”, and yes, there were times when I just started feeling immensely guilty reflecting on those kinds of thoughts.

But as I’ve said before, I’m also one of those people who has not only taken the time to think about life’s very deep and significant questions, but also has been on a “mission” to reconcile the world, with all of its problems and issues as well as its pop culture, with a very superficial taste of the supernatural, of that spiritual realm outside of this one.

The key to doing this is really, to sit back and think about life. I’m no real philosopher, but I really do think life, in all of its complexity, would be too difficult to boil it down to just a single sentence, a single line in a page of history.

This is because all of our lives, each and every human being on the face of the Earth, paint a unique visual picture, with all of our achievements and setbacks, laughter and tears, joy and sadness: they all tell this story of what the human race is meant to strive for, and even as Toni Morrison has stated, it is not for mere happiness—it should be for something even greater than that.

So what is “it” then? Psychologist Martin Seligman calls it ‘gratification’, an intuitive pleasure you can feel when you do something you love.

My high school teacher Jaime Richards emphasizes the doing part very greatly. He says that “work is good” and that work of any kind will produce that gratifying sensation, that rewarding sensation you feel as a result of working on something, especially something you really enjoy doing.

If – and it’s a big if – I can convince kids to work hard at something they think is ‘worth doing,’ I’m confident that they will eventually realize that hard work really is the secret of happiness.

The second answer is simple and clear. Of course we should figure out what work is worth doing! Doing that, though, is an enormous challenge. Starting in kindergarten (preschool?) we’ve been encouraged to work hard, but that’s the problem. Working hard isn’t enough. We have to work hard at the right things. Merely working hard gives us a false sense of security. ‘I’m working hard. So, eventually, it will pay off.’

~ Jaime Richards in an excerpt from Finding the Right Work (2011)

So, truth be told, we have to find ways to make work gratifying, not just satisfying, and learn how to work smarter, not just harder. It’s obviously hard to find a great or even “perfect” method, but maybe there’s a solution out there somewhere. Still it needs a lot of investigation.

With that being said, going back to Steve’s message, we have to constantly find ways to make life meaningful, not just say that it is and completely blow off the message the next second.

Take a snapshot from anyone’s life, even my own, and ask yourself the question from Switchfoot’s song, “Are you who you want to be?”

If not, find the key aspects you’d like to improve on and make small changes every single day.

In time, you might even be surprised that you’ll feeling more confident than a few weeks ago or even a few months ago, when life just seemed cruddy.

As Jaime would assure me as well, “Don’t worry Josh, the day will get better.”

Now I look back and I think, “You’re right Jaime, my teach. The day is getting better. Somehow I still have to hold on to a genuine hope from deep within.”

Hope all you people out there will too.

Enough said.

~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.

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