I'm not sure what I should be feeling about the fact that when I thought of "One Life to Live", a soap opera came to mind. But I can tell you that what I am not feeling, is a sense of overwhelming pride.
I don't remember ever watching this show, but for some reason, I remember the name.
I'll try to recover and write a semi-respectable post.
I don't know about you, but I put a lot of thought into what I should be doing with my life, what I should be achieving, striving towards, or accomplishing.
There is a desire for there to be some meaning, purpose, or lasting impact that my life has. I want it to have mattered that I was here, in some way. I want to have been significant, in the grand scheme of things. I think I'll even settle for the tiny scheme of things.
At least, that is a battle that I have with myself. I don't know that it is always healthy, but it is something that I deal with.
And when I go to this place, the natural progression tends to lead me to a search for a career or profession that is going to allow me to reach those goals. And, when you start searching for answers to those questions online, you end up with a lot of this:
"Find Your Passion and Throw Caution to the Wind"
"How to Quit Your Job and Find Your Passion!!"
"3 1/2 Ways to Stop Living an Average Life and Find Your Purpose!"
"The Passionate Person's Guide to Living a Life of Purpose on Purpose"
Usually (and I consider myself somewhat of an expert in this area because, late at night, while my wife snores next to me, I'm scouring the internet looking for my passion and/or my purpose) these websites offer up advice in one of two ways.
One, they offer some very generic advice, telling you to think about the things that make you happy, and just to do more of those things, and how if you just pursue your passion, you can stay at home, and work online, or travel the world, and make a lot of money.
Or...they offer up an extremely long web page in which you scroll down for five minutes, until getting to the bottom, where they are offering you a chance to find your passion for three installments of $299.
For $1 more, they will also help you find your purpose.
Don't worry, I haven't purchased any of those programs.
I really think there are some good things about recognizing and understanding what you are passionate about, and as a Christian, I think there are some clear indications about what our purpose is here on earth. I also think that when it's possible, we should pursue our passions and our dreams, and those things that excite and invigorate us.
The problem with these websites and with much of the narrative that is out there, is that it often makes people feel like if they aren't living their passion (whatever that means) then they are living a second rate life.
And many people, often those who are deep thinkers or planners, focus on trying to get the right answer, right away (nearly impossible when considering life).
What can happen, if we are ( I am ) not careful, is that we begin to think that there is one best way to lead our lives, and if we don't figure out what that is, we will be settling for second best. And that is simply not true.
-Excerpted from Designing Your Life
But I am reading this book right now called Designing Your Life, written by these two guys who teach a class by the same name at Stanford. They both have a design background, and through a series of different exercises they help people design their life. One of the things that they have found, is that based on surveys they have given their students, that their students believe that they have an average of 3.4 "lifetimes worth of living" inside of them.
Now, I don't really know exactly what that means, and there is no research behind that number, but I think it's a neat concept.
What it means to me is that we have multiple lives within us, and though we only get to choose one at a time, there is no one perfect pursuit.
If we make a misstep, or choose "wrong" or end up down a path that we find out doesn't fit for us, we can restart, and go in another direction. We don't have to worry so much about finding the one best thing.
So no matter where we are, and no matter where we hope to be, I think we can take comfort in knowing that life is a long and winding road, and if need be, we can choose to head off in a different direction.
And if you are like me, you can relax a little, and quit trying to "discover your passion in 3 easy steps" or stop staying up late at night searching for your dream job, when you aren't even sure what that really means. There is no one great career that is going to allow me to leave a lasting legacy, and if there is, I'm certainly not going to find it for three easy payments and a small processing fee online.
I'll write later about how we can make the most of our 3.4 lives, and how we can explore some of these passions, dreams, ideas that we have about where we would like our lives to go.
But for now, I just wanted to encourage you that you have more than one life to live. There is no one right way. And if you get it "wrong" once or twice...it's okay.