Sunday, 15 July 2012

Real miracles and doing something worthwhile...

One of my favourite movies is Bruce Almighty (Morgan Freeman as God – what’s not to like??). 

In it, there's a scene where ‘God’ (Morgan Freeman) is talking to Bruce (Jim Carrey).  He says: ‘Parting your soup is not a miracle Bruce, it’s a magic trick.  A single mum, who’s working two jobs and still finds time to take her kid to soccer practice, that’s a miracle.’ (Bruce Almighty, 2003, Universal)

I used to want to change the world.  I thought doing something ‘worthwhile’ was the greatest ambition to have.

When I classified myself as ‘Christian’, that meant ‘saving’ the world: helping as many people as possible to become Christians (and since that can mean a million different things to a million different people, I’m still not sure what I was trying to achieve).

After that, it became my ambition to make the world a better place, to improve the lives of as many human beings as possible.  Perhaps classifying me as ‘Humanist’.*

Now, I'm starting to wonder if the best thing we can do with our lives is to do our best at the things we have to do.

I realise that’s one of those trite statements that probably doesn’t really mean anything, but hear me out...

The word ‘have’ in that statement isn’t meant to refer to things we must do, like chores.  I mean it as the things we have to do, in an ‘owning’ sense.  (Although that can mean chores sometimes...)

For example, some people are extremely talented musicians.  They can sing, or play an instrument, or write a musical in a way that other people never could.  They have abilities different to those around them.  The thing they ‘have’ to do is create music.

Other people can only dream of pursuing such ambitions.  Their lives are too busy, too hectic, too stressful and they just don’t have the time.  I know some people like this and I am humbled by their motivation, their tenacity, their selflessness.  In their lives, they ‘have’ things to do, and they are devoting themselves wholly to doing them, in spite of, often considerable, personal cost.

Someone like me trying to be a writer, often complaining about what ‘hard work’ it is and struggling for the motivation to even open the necessary file could learn a lot from them.

If you’re like me, and lucky enough to have the time to pursue...whatever goal it is you want, then do it.  Chase it.  And may we remember what a privilege that is.

If you’re like those people I know, living a life filled with things you so often feel you have to do, perhaps like the single mother Morgan Freeman’s character mentions, then remember what a miracle you are.  The lives of the people you touch will be all the better for your sacrificial efforts.  And surely that is truly something ‘worthwhile'.

*I’m not big on classifying people; I believe we’re all too individual to fit into tidy boxes. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Taking advice and being who we really are.

Normally in life, when I have a problem, I talk to all my friends and family about it and end up with lots of voices in my head (theirs, rather than ones relating to any sort of insanity – I learned to tune those out years ago, after that second murder...) each giving me advice on what I should do.

I don’t mind that; I like knowing what other people think I ought to do (if only because it provides food for my innate desire to do the opposite of what people say).  The downside is that sometimes it’s hard to know what to do because there are so many pieces of advice floating around.  It can get a bit confusing.

Recently I’ve had a bit of space from my usual confidants for one reason and another and it’s been interesting.  I’ve found my own ‘voice’ in my mind is clearer and I can better understand what I want, how I feel, what I think I should do.  It’s been affirming to realise the course of action I’ve taken/am taking is the one I think is right.

I’m not about to change my usual way of dealing with things, and will no doubt be chewing my friends’ ears off again in the near future.  But sometimes we can get so caught up in what everyone else thinks, in the way other people believe we should live our lives, that we forget what it means to be ‘us’.  It’s easy to think other people know better how to live – a symptom of low self-esteem if ever there was one – and to try and emulate, or even please, them.  But who says they’re right?

Someone I know on Facebook posted the picture I’ve included on this post yesterday and it really struck me.  More than anyone else in my life, I am the one who makes me feel inferior, or ‘worthless’.  And I suspect I’m not the only one.

But we’re not worthless.  No one else is ‘better’ than us at living this life; we’re all just making it up as we go along.  And whilst it’s good to take advice and listen to trusted people, it’s just that – advice.  Our own choices/feelings/beliefs are equally valid.

And sometimes it’s those we need to trust.