From an article by Robert Butche:
'Life has two different meanings: the period between birth and death; and the experience or state of being alive. The first is a physiological state of existence only partially under our control. The latter is a state of consciousness that is part historical, part now, and part future. What we do with our life is entirely of our own making.'
From the moment of our birth we are in the business of life. At that instant we are an unwritten book waiting to be filled with discovery, mischief, activities and challenges. For some of us our arrival is a moment of great joy for those present, while for others of us it is either a non-event, or unwanted, or to be concealed. But there we are giggly, gurgily and infantile — without a clue as to what our life will be, or the slightest notion of what life is about.
Some of us will make of our lives a fine journey — filled with joy, achievement, love and satisfaction. The rest of us will find living difficult at best, suffer from oppression, or deprivation, or simply fail ourselves and those we love.
There was no graduation ceremony from fetus to human. No one told us about the business of life. No user manual was offered at our birth, no heart-to-heart talk with our parents about our place in their lives or their’s in our’s. But arrive we did. At that moment, the business of life had begun.
Little do we know when we arrive that we are the masters of our own ship. Being infants we’d have no basis of understanding, but even in childhood discovery of life’s mysteries and demands will remain largely obscured. No one is likely to step forward to explain to us that we, and we alone, will determine how we shall use our physical existence to traverse a life path that realizes our potential as conscious, thinking entities.
Unfortunately, no one explained the rules of life to us when we arrived here. We grew up absent any clear concept of the opportunities and pitfalls that would intersect our lives. Nor had we a rational way of thinking about them, planning for them, or even recognizing them along the way. If only there had been a clear set of instructions permanently affixed in our brain we could have related what we experienced in our lives with far greater understanding and wisdom. For example, what if we knew, even as children,
Life’s Unwritten Rule Book
Here are some of its most important rules.
Life will be what we make of it.
Everything said to be good for us isn’t.
Even those we most trust and respect sometimes lie, betray or damage us.
There never was and never will be a free meal, free sex, or free anything.
Others are prone to tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to know.
We are responsible for our own happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
Life is a solo journey during which neither friends, family, lovers or spouses fully share our needs, wants, attitudes, beliefs, or values.
Successful lives are the product of the quality of our journey, not the illusion of destination.
Someone else’s definition of success may not only be wrong for them, but wrong for us.
Money, power, prestige and status are not directly or permanently related to happiness, success or fulfillment.
Most people are lost and confused about who they are and what they want.
We cannot succeed and will never be happy marching to someone else’s drummer.
Business, even the business of life is about transactions in which we trade some part of ourselves for something essential to our being. Every event, word, deed, action and activity of our life thus becomes a transaction that defines who we are, what we bring to the game, and where we are in achieving our goals, aspirations, or destiny. Each of our transactions is permanently recorded in the book of me, and each one results in the activities, actions, events and outcomes that frame our existence.
It is our own book of me that tells our life story — all the better that someone explain to us early on that everything we do, achieve, accomplish or fail at will define what our life. All the other stuff only served to fill time, misdirect our attention, or subvert our character.
Happiness, satisfaction and eternal peace do not result from any business beyond our own lives, for money, power, looks, influence and ephemeral success are transitory, ephemeral, unsubstantive and fleeting. All the things we were told would give our lives meaning fall to the side along life’s path.
Since the history of our life will be with us forever, the life path we choose and how we manage it is the only measure of our accomplishment, maturation, fulfillment and satisfaction. None of us will take our worldly possessions with us, but each of us will take with us our own book of me. For those who are religious, the book of me is a record of how we lived and accomplished for mankind–and our qualifications for a final place of rest. For the rest of us, the book of me is the final scorecard, the final chapter and the summation of our short visit to consciousness and realization.
Well, you get the idea by now that life is what we make of it. There is no single thread of success, and there is no single path to enlightenment. For each of us, comprised as we are by genomic elements nearly as complex as the cosmos, are unique on this planet. There are, nevertheless some universal truths, reliable methods of inquiry, and time honored mile posts we can use to guide us along or near that life path most likely to fulfill our dreams and satisfy our thirst for living life to its fullest. Love, relationships, friends and family are central to everything we do or accomplish on our own short visit to a very small planet.
And now, a favorite song and video (I particularly like this version with the old books :) )
I have two college roommates who both had babies born prematurely. One was born at 1.10 lbs. and the other at 1.5 lbs. One of those babies is a healthy 'almost 5 years' old now. The other was just born this fall. Those lives almost didn't get a chance to be written upon or to discover what this crazy life is all about. Fortunately, because of today's technology and quite a few prayers, they will.
Here is the online address to help support my friend's team for March of Dimes:
This walk will be on April 18th in Worcester, MA.