Saturday, November 8, 2014

An Unexamined Life- The Sunday Collage

Have you ever met someone who has that unquenchable thirst of always wanting and obtaining things? Someone who is always busy doing some something? I know hundreds of people like that. Intelligent people who believe that every second of their day must be consumed with some "useful" project or their life will be filled with guilt and ruin.

I once knew a guy, a local potter who was once very famous here in Boise. His pottery is very fine and considered quite valuable, but you know- that pottery of John's has never improved my life. My life would undoubtedly be the same without his pottery albeit a little less colorful. Strangely, I think that it is Mr. Takehara that is worth examining and not his pottery. A lot of folks would think I have that backwards. Mr Takehara always fascinated me, maybe some others. http://janestreetclayworks.com/tag/john-takehara/

Unfortunately, Mr. Takehara is no longer with us. Even if he were, I doubt he'd have much to say. Talking about himself was just not his style.

Someone famous once said, "The best two minutes of a man's life occur when he is born and when he discovers why he was born."

The span between those two minutes in my life ran from Dec. 1960 to April, 2008. The first minute occurred in eastern Montana. I don't remember it so well but it's not important. It's the second minute that I want to talk a little bit about.

I've always thought that there has to be some sort of purpose for us being here. Sometimes, I think people get caught up in living their lives and adhering to some script placed in their heads by their parents and family members. Sometimes I think, they live their lives like little ants- dutifully building some ridiculous little ant hill- which the world kicks over with hardly a sense of loss.

Can you imagine living a completely useless life? What a cruel joke that might be.

So if there is any sort of purpose here...the only thing that makes any kind of sense to me- is that we are here to help others become better people.

Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Why did he say that?

Perhaps while examining your life it causes you to become brutally honest. You become aware of all of your mistakes and shortcomings. You realize how self centered you've been. You look at your life and think, "I should have done this or I should have done that" and you realize the things that you did right but more importantly- the things you did that were wrong. That kind of brutal honesty is the breeding ground for truth. Telling people the truth means you have examined your life. You have something conscious and useful that the rest of us can use. If you fail to honestly examine your life- then you have learned nothing. Not only that- but you have nothing to give others.

If you examine your life but are too fearful to disclose it to others- then you have sort of failed too, haven't you?

My examination happened in April of 2008. I was in New Orleans doing a personal inventory of my life and generally just kicking myself in the ass for having been a whiny, self centered and angry, ego maniac. I walked it all back. I saw all of the cause and effect. I realized how I came to that place, detail by detail. And just like Takehara's pottery- most importantly I began to understand who I was- and not what I had produced. For just as surely as Mr. Takehara brought beauty into the world, I had brought the product of my actions as well. But unlike Takehara, when I screwed something up- I couldn't just smash it to pieces or melt it in some kiln and get rid of it. Sometimes there's no taking something back.

You gotta get ok with that. Because your actions helped shape this place and in fact- that was your role. You were cast for that part. it wasn't a mistake.

On Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving- I will get the opportunity to tell an audience what an unexamined life looks like and what an examined life looks like. I absolutely love to contrast the two. There is nothing better than telling the world what an idiot you have been and then laughing about it. People think you are some special kind of nuts.

I think that's the 2nd moment I discovered back in New Orleans. That there is nothing more helpful than being honest and helping others. Being authentic comes from a place in the heart where it is ok to be an idiot- ok to make mistakes. People understand that and they can take action to avoid the same pitfalls that have sucked you in. I've been helping a lot of people get ok with themselves since '08. It hasn't always been pleasant but it sure has been gratifying.

Besides, I suck at making pottery.












5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Few men truly live...most just exist.

Anonymous said...

Re: Mr. Takehara, when human beings have a talent and do well with that talent,they don't have to shout about it. Greatness is always recognized by most people.
It is usually those that toil at there craft and produce great results that are the most humble.

Jim at Asylum Watch said...

If each of us can leave our own little corner of the world a little better off than we found it, we've lived a good life.

Anonymous said...

My mother used to tell me the exact same thing Jim@AW. I've tried to do that all my life.

As for mistakes and owning up to them, wow I've made some whoppers and have always copped to them. On the flip side, I guess I've been very lucky having found what I love to do when I was 18. Yep I'm one of those guys, still at 63, that can't wait to get out to my studio every morning and work until I'm seeing double.
MM

Anonymous said...

Good post...... agreed..... we're here for a reason. I'm still figuring out what exactly that might be..., but always try to make the "right" decision....
So much coming over the horizon.....
N.E. Friend