“Let the young soul look back on its life and ask itself: what have you truly loved, what has drawn out your soul, what has commanded it and at the same time made it happy. Line up these objects of reverence before you and perhaps by what they are and their sequence, they will yield you a law, the fundamental law of your true self.”
Nietzsche – Untimely Meditations
This grabbed me because it was so simple and the answer told me so much. Nowadays, it is hard to know the why and how of our lives. We have lost a lot of the structure our ancestors had.
Have just watched actor Martin Clunes do a documentary on the Scottish Shetland Isles. What came through was the connectedness of the islanders to their community, the seasons and the bones of the islands. We might think them cut off and short on the activities we take for granted, but they are rooted in their homeland in a way we seldom are.
Our lifestyle ignores nature – we fix it with air conditioning and jarringly bright lights. Often we don’t see daylight all day. So we have lost our entrainment with the seasons.
And many of us have also lost the scaffolding of religion, which used to give us both direction and feedback (heaven or hell!). In today’s peripatetic society, our kids may be cities away or on different continents. We skype manically instead of sitting down to Sunday lunch. Immigrants, like Bill and me, have broken the continuity of place and family our parents had.
So is it surprising that we often don’t know our purpose, the big picture of our life? That we fill this uncertainty with a bucket list?
Nietzsche’s question cut right through like slicing butter. Disregard the static of our frenzied hamster wheels. What have/do we truly love? What has lifted up our soul? What has made us content-happy, not overstimulated?
I got an immediate answer, a thread that ran through the myriad changes of my life. I have loved our marriage, what we have built out of two people’s melding. My soul has been drawn out by my journey towards God. And writing gives alignment and flow. My deep content is not idle waste – after all how useful is it? It is the texture of my self.
Suddenly, I was no longer looking at a mishmash of here-and-there jobs, a kaleidoscope of houses, and a self-perpetuating to-do list. It had bones – it all made sense.