“I shall pass this way but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer, nor neglect it. For I shall not pass this way again.” ~ Stephen Grellet, quaker missionary.
In late 2016 on my second pilgrimage walking across Spain with my wife Dana, I came to some important life conclusions. Oddly, many were inspired by the nature of the US presidential election where, over time, we watched candidates do anything and everything under the sun, much in the name of power, control and self. It was never about the people, never truly about the greater good, extraordinarily narcissistic – a public exhibition of so many things we thought we’d never see. We demand better behavior of our own children. As public figures modeled these behaviors right before our very eyes, day after unbelievable day, my greatest concern became that we set a new, bizarre, “standard for normal” that we’ll one day sincerely regret. My soul felt wounded from it all.
Meanwhile, during the simplicity and cleansing experience of pilgrimage, I decided it was more important than ever to take responsibility for my own outlook, behaviors and
attitudes, and not to get caught up in the blowing winds of a post-truth world that uses the tactics of emotion, divisiveness and conflict, and tricks people into believing they’re not seeing what they see and hearing what they hear. Cults have successfully thrived on lesser tactics, and on people desperate for simple change.
Information filters and anchor points may be the two most important foundations for a meaningful and happy life in 2017. Never has the simple idea of “responsibility for self” been more important. A new world demands that we rededicate to some basic, yet important decisions, and perhaps most importantly that we guard our hearts and our heads. Our legacy to future generations now stands on how we conduct ourselves in a world economy that thrives on people divided against themselves.
Through the process of examining how this all might affect me and my family, I rendered the most important conclusion pointed to intentional life practices that would help me take my eyes off myself. This life is not about me. Living out that knowledge eludes me more than I wish, but God (sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently) always graciously leads me back to it.
The wisest advice I ever received from a professional mentor came years ago at the outset of launching a new business when he shared this:
“I never got anywhere in life, or achieved any success whatever, without someone else’s help.”
Those words from local architect Jerry Brackett have become foundational for me in so many ways. Some things just stick.
This new, daily blog project is just one of the ways I plan to take responsibility for myself in 2017. I want to dedicate time every day to those who have inspired me, gone out of their way to help, and shaped me. I want to apologize to those whom I’ve wronged, encourage those in whom I see promise, weep for those whom I mourn and for those with whom I grieve. Who knows what else? There are no rules – that was one of the more valuable lessons of 2016.
This blog will not be about me. And ironically, so much of what’s important to my life depends on that.
Join me in 2017 as I write a Note a Day.