Sunday, January 23, 2011

It is all up to us and those who help us

Well, let’s see… I’ll leave you with what? Hmm… I think, each other. Can’t beat that. I’ll leave you with all of you. That’s all you need. Whoever, okay, whomever, pinned the piece in the handout about the candles this morning did a wonderful job condensing these monologues in to one short statement. You are up to you, and you, and you… Each of you brings forth who you are in the company of those who receive you well and, in so doing, encourage you and sustain you in the work—and in the joy—of being you.

You bring yourself forth in the service of that which is truly important to you. This company encourages you in that work, in the work of knowing and doing what is truly important to you. One thing leads to another, you know, and as you do this important thing, you find yourself led into the next important thing, and before long, you have built—created—a life of true value by doing the things that are important to you. Our work is to craft a life of worth and value by the way we live—by living in the service of things that are important to us—by living on The Beam, the path, the way with our name on it.

We do not find what is important to us, what we truly care about, by thinking about it. We “take up” a lot of things along the lines of “I think I’ll take up oil painting, or golf, or bird watching,” but it’s an idle pastime that we are taking up. Our heart isn’t in it. We are just hanging out with oil painting, or golf, or bird watching, in the absence of something worth our time. I “took up” the alto saxophone once. That lasted until I encountered sharps and flats. I didn’t care that much about alto saxophones.

However, the camera, writing, and walking in the woods have been essentially important to me over time. I care about these things, and go to a good bit of trouble and expense to serve them, and have crafted a life of worth and value (to me) around them. This doesn’t mean that my life is valuable and worthy in an absolute sense, only in a relative sense, as it relates to me. But if I am—if my life is—to have a chance of being worthy and valuable to you, my life and I have to be worthy and valuable to me. I owe it to me to live a life that I hold to be worthy and valuable. If I try to live a life that you, or Those Who Know Best, would hold to be worthy and valuable, I might hate myself and my life even if you, or they, loved it.

And so, the question: What is important to you that no one told you ought to be important? If the only things that are important to you are the things other people have told you ought to be important, then what is important to you is listening to, and pleasing, other people.

Here we come upon the importance of the right kind of company in helping us determine what is worthy and valuable, and live our lives in light of what is truly important to us. Those Who Know Best and Those Who Must Be Pleased are not the right kind of company. The right kind of company is a community of innocence with nothing at stake in our choice of what is important, other than it not be harmful to us or others.

“What are you doing that is truly valuable to you?” A community of innocence asks questions like that. “What are you doing that your soul loves?” These are the questions that put us on the right track, on the beam, on the path, the way, with our name on it. A community of innocence is good for helping us find the way to The Way by asking the right questions and being interested in our replies.

We don't know where value comes from—or values, for that matter—why some things are important to us and not other things. But we cannot deny that we ascribe value to things. What are the things of high value to us? How often do we do the things of high value? Why don't we spend more time doing those things? Why do we spend so much time doing things we don't like, things of low value to us, and so little time doing things we do like, things of high value? Here's what you can do for me, call it a going away present: Do more of the things with high value for you and less of the things with low, or no, value.

Of the free-time you have left for living, how much of it will you spend doing what you like and how much doing what you don't like? Our life's value to us is the degree to which we spend our time doing the things that are important to us, that have value for us. It comes down to clarity and courage. Being clear about what is important to us and being courageous enough to live in its service.

There is a price to be paid for doing what is important to us, and a price to be paid for not doing what is important to us. Which price to pay? What price are we willing to pay to do what is important to us? Our call to make is what price we are going to pay to live, to be alive, in the time left for living. These folks here with you will help you make that call by caring about you in the right kind of way and listening you to the truth of what matters most to you and encouraging you to do it. I leave you all in good company.

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