One of the starting points that virtually every book on success will tell you (and I have read more than my fair share) is that you have to a "Why", a reason that you are trying to accomplish what it is that you are about. With the "Why", every difficulty, every challenge can be pushed through; without it, almost any activity is doomed to failure because that underlying incentive is not there.
I have realized that I have lost my Why.
I am not really sure where it went, or even how long it has really been gone. I am certainly aware that it is no longer operative in my life.
It is not the same as a rut: a rut is just doing the same thing every day until you have worn a trail through your daily life. No, it is the thing that should have motivated you to get out of the rut in the first place or the incentive that keeps it from becoming a rut as you move on towards something else.
Oh, I could come up with things to fill the gap that exists: "Serve God", "Save the _____", "Do ___" - but they would simply be that, place fillers rather than something to spark my soul into action. Which hardly seems like a better solution.
How does one even go about rediscovering a Why? Maybe it felt like it was easier when I was younger; now, with responsibilities and timelines it feels as my Why has been reduced to meeting the responsibilities and lives of others (which to be clear, in some fashion I did sign up for).
I do not quite know how to find my why. I just know that I really, really need to find it. Because without that spark, mediocrity becomes all too easy.
So this was supposed to be the ranting post against the horror that happened two nights ago in Manchester, England. I had worked myself up about it all day, ready with fire and brimstone (and a polite redirection for those that did not want to participate in an unusual current events post).
And then I got to point of writing it, and found that I am too emotionally exhausted to do it.
I think this may have finally overloaded whatever was left of my "Give a D*mn" gene. Making war against little girls and young women is both despicable and deplorable. But then again, sacrificing them at some level for the cultural narrative of pluralism is also despicable and deplorable.
Sadly, the usual round of has come to be our outrage will cycle through again: flowers, stuffed animals, cards, candles and vigils. Raids will be conducted - too late for the victims of course - and angry discourse about how we can never have this happen again will be spouted forth.
In reality, of course, precisely nothing has been accomplished.
And this is where my emotional exhaustion stems from.
Do not mistake me: I care. I do care deeply. But I cannot continue to care as we have apparently entered a cycle in which we see these attacks, see their devastation, bemoan the injured and dead - and then effectively do nothing, waiting for the cycle to occur again.
I used to wonder how many would have to die before we finally got serious about the issue. What I find is that in fact we never intend to get serious about it.
The world is on fire. And I simply cannot muster the emotional strength to care anymore. All I can do is weep.
You would think after so many years that the Dream Killers would still not impact you so powerfully.
The Dream Killers - those about us who somehow manage to find a way to poke holes in expressed hopes and dreams, who quietly - or loudly - deflate things which are presented to them. The people who, as Jeffrey Gitomer says, "Rain on your parade because they do not have a parade of their own."
Present them with a financial dream and they will find reasons that it can never come to pass. Present them with a personal dream and they will suggest that best it will not make a difference at all, at worst it is unachievable. Tell them a spiritual dream and you will probably get an okay, as long it is remains practical and does not interfere with getting on with life.
Maybe there are people out there that are strong enough that such things do not bother them. I am not one of those people: I can always feel the moment when my spirit sinks - instantly - when the response comes. "Deflates" was not just an invented word; it is the real feeling in my soul one moment after the words are said. I can literally feel the hole opened up and the dream quietly escaping.
It is hard to come back from such moments. Every attempt to rebuild the shattered core collapses back down, like a sand castle after the waves have soaked the sand. The lowered level of expectations creep in: the "Well, I could not have anyway" and "What was I thinking" and "I suppose I should be practical". And there is a low numbness that spreads throughout my spirit, a clinging miasma that dampens even the thought of thinking a more uplifting thought?
Oddly enough, the one reaction that is normal from such an encounter - an increased silence and closing up - is the most unexpected response of all to the Dream Killer. It is as if they have no idea what they have done and are genuinely surprised that their comments - which I imagine are meant as practical advice - have instead deeply cut and wounded.
The reaction - again, probably unexpected -is that the dreams and the Dreamers simply go underground in their souls. Hidden behind many quiet and careful facades - perhaps more than we could expect - are the passionate hearts of those who have learned through the painful coin of experience that dreams are actually not simply to be shared en masse with every person one meets.
"If some watcher or holy one who had spent his glad centuries by the sea of fire were to come to earth, how meaningless to him would be the ceaseless chatter of the busy tribes of men. How strange to him and how empty would sound the flat, stale, and profitless words heard in the average pulpit from week to week. And were such a one to speak on the earth, would he not speak of God? Would he not charm and fascinate his hearers with rapturous descriptions of the Godhead? And after hearing him could we ever again, consent to listen to anything less than theology, the doctrine of God? Would we not thereafter demand of those who would presume to teach us that they speak to us from the mount of divine vision or remain silent altogether?"
Perhaps over the course of your internet life you have done a Wordle - a compilation of words put together in interesting forms that are art.
In some you can input text and it will size the words based on their frequency of use.
I wonder, over the course of our lives and all the words we speak and write, what would a world look like? What words have we spoken and written so often that they would be the largest, the most prominent? If the words of our life were the building blocks of the art, the outcome of our existence, what would it look like?
Did we speak words of wisdom or love? Did we speak joy or teaching into the lives of others? Or were our words so negative, so angry, that all they would leave is a monument to a bitter existence?
I wonder, if in some odd Tron-like digital future, the moment to a life would be the words most used by an individual, constantly streaming across a screen. What, I wonder, would mine look like?