From time to time I find myself adrift. Maybe overly complacent is more accurate. I’m a little surprised that still happens at my age. I don’t know if it is the same for everybody but from time to time I have to remind myself that trips around the sun are limited. I don’t want to look back on life with too many regrets. I’m not good with regrets. Regrets can lead to icky thoughts and take up space in my head that could be used for good things like love and hope and joy.
I always seem to feel better in life when I’m mindful of my priorities and actually, deliberately, working to maintain them. I need to be deliberate to first accept who I am and then to live purposefully toward serving others. It always seems too easy to get wrapped up with the business of being the things that I do: Father, husband, parent, employee, homeowner or whatever. All of the things I do in those roles require attention and maintenance and time. If I turn from the things I do, to the things I am, I’m better able have fulfillment in my roles. Only attitude, only living purposefully can determine if I’m living fully or merely existing.
So that are my priorities? Where do I find purpose? Are you ready for this? I want to live my life in such a way as to contribute to heaven on earth. I’m not saying I’m very good at it. I’m not delusional, well not about this anyway. I take stock in the concept of the butterfly effect. (The phenomenon where the swoosh of a butterfly wing on one side of the world can result in a hurricane on the other side of the world.) I pray every day that I can be the kind of man that God wants me to be. Usually I’m lucky if I can finish the prayer before I fail but that mindset might just put me in a place to do some little, maybe even imperceptible thing that could turn something around for someone or someone’s someone later in the day.
What I’m really hoping to do, when I pray to be the kind of man God wants me to be, is doing things like listening to people. Really listening. Just by being present and attentive you can make a difference in someone’s day. I hold doors for people. I greet and engage people where I can. I especially like to engage people who might otherwise go unseen: the security guard, the maintenance guy, the cafeteria server. I try to be helpful where I see people struggling. Maybe they are carrying packages or dropped an item. Maybe they are running to catch the elevator or maybe they just look like they could use encouragement. None of this costs me anything and I find those micro connections, where you recognize that you let someone know they matter, essential to what I value about humanity.
My personality is such that I tend to do most of those things out of habit. On autopilot if you will. But I don’t seem to reap the benefits and fulfillment of those actions without being deliberate. Those are many ways to serve. When I practice these random connections consciously is when I’m most accepting who I am. With that acceptance I feel like I’m better able to be authentic in my engagements. It is built into our humanity to be social creatures. It is our innate proclivity to community that we have been able to achieve so much in this world.
That’s why it bothers me so much to see all of the divisiveness and isolationist rhetoric being normalized by recent trends towards populism. And we should stop calling what’s going on in the world today populism. It isn’t. Populism is defined as “support for the concerns of ordinary people.” That doesn’t seems to match what we are witnessing in society these days. It’s time we took to the streets with a servants heart and see if millions of butterflies can’t just get us back on track and create a little heaven on earth.
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