Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Conscious Choosing: Knowledge

How do we come to the knowledge of what is truly important to us, of what our priorities are in life? And how do we separate the things that are important from the the things that we say are important?

These answers are important - critically so - if we are to engage in the conscious choosing which defines a life which truly makes a difference and is a success.

The difficulty for me, as I consider the question, is the fact that what I often claim as a priority, a value, a thing of importance, is whether or not such things are so. How did I determine them? Was it my own determination, my upbringing, my acculturation, even (as C.S. Lewis would say) the fact that my coffee was good and I feel fine with the world? Too often I think they are a conglomeration of all of these things.

In considering the question, I think one has to start with the concept of time and limitations. We do not have all the time in the world - an average of 77 years for most of us - and we cannot ever do everything that we want. Too often we believe this not to be case: we think that youth goes on forever, or we will have endless amounts of energy and resources, or that we can do anything we put our mind too (we can do most things, to be sure - but at what cost?). If we believe time and energy and talent are endless, of course we will never focus - we will always believe we have enough time for something.

But reality is far different. There is a time for all of us, and our energy and talents are limited by time and entropy. Based on that, we need to consider what we really want to accomplish, what is truly worth doing based on those parameters.

Some of them are seemingly unrewarded in this life. For example, it is important to me that Na Clann have a close relationship with God and good spiritual founding. This is of such important that we have decided to sacrifice our time and finances to ensure (to the greatest extent possible) that this occurs. Is there necessarily any recognition or direct rewards accruing in this life? Probably not - but that's not really the point. It is a thing that is a priority to us. And it means there are things that we cannot do because of that commitment.

What I wish I had sometimes is the equivalent of a river in my life. As it moves through the plain or high mountains, it would grind or wash away the softer rocks and soils, leaving only those things that are harder. These remaining stones and rocks, I submit, are the equivalent of those things that are the true values, the true priorities in our life.

But whatever that process is, it must be followed. We must determine - we must be realistic - that ultimately, we all have limitations. The sooner we discover what is important to us, the sooner we can be about doing something to make those priorities a reality in our lives.

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