Monday, May 31, 2010

Goals and Humanity

2009 was a watershed year for me. The volume and quality of experiences that I've accumulated that year were worth several other years of my life: I met a fantastic woman whose presence in my life continues to be a source of unabated joy, I did a triathlon, a race which has been on my heart for half a decade, I did a marathon, I gave a big gift to my parents. But taking a step back, the more important landmark historically speaking will be the fact that I finally did something about my desires besides pine for them from afar and whine when it stayed so distant.

Goals. Tangibly and materially speaking, setting goals has contributed to my general happiness and contentment more than any other immediate action. Setting personal goals says a lot of things. It says "I have a desire and it's a worthwhile pursuit." I've documented my struggles with feeling the freedom to pursue my own dreams in many a previous blog post before so I won't belabor the point.

I've been obsessed with goals for a year now. It still amazes me what effort, resourcefulness and initiative can accomplish. It still confounds me that I was able to I live for years without it. The novelty of initiative and determination hasn't wore off for me yet.

Setting goals taught me to measure progress, to value measurement. Surprisingly, my spiritual life received the greatest windfall from this development. Before I would set goals, wishes really, like "I want to love God more." and leave it at that. Now when I hear my past echoed back to me through the mouths of other Christians, I respond asking "How would you know you're getting there? How would you know when you're there? What steps are you going to take? How often are you going to measure progress? What adjustments do you foresee making?"

Roughly 4 out of 5 people I interrogate in this way respond by stammering or avoiding my gaze, avoiding the subject. I'm deeply thankful for the 1 out of 5 that I meet because nothing encourages me like comrades-in-arms, others who aren't content to take life as it comes living like worms in the soil on a day to day, bite to bite existence. Nothing is more appropriate to humanity than dreaming while awake. The poor do it. The rich do it. The sick, the healthy, the strong, the weak, across nations, across genders, across history... I haven't researched it, but I'm willing to wager on the fact that there has never been a person who fails to dream, to imagine while awake. Even animals dream when they are asleep. Humans can dream in the broad daylight of consciousness and awareness. Goals then, aren't fundamentally human. Goals, setting goals, separates those who are human merely by birth and chance, from those who   want to make the most of their human gifts while alive. Not only do they dream, but they realize that their dreams can come true if they seize upon it with both hands. They are a people alive.

Today is May 31st. At the end of the day, 151 days of a 365 day year will be in the books. How alive have you been for the 41% of the year that has passed?

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