America is increasingly a land of the discontented. TV with 300 channels in every room, desktops replaced by laptops replaced by tablets soon to be replaced by smartphones more powerful that desktop computers of at best 15 years ago (if that). Kids, wildly affluent by the standards in 90% of the world, angry at parents who fail to provide enough stimulation via the latest gadgets and experiences. Addiction, both substance and process, continuing to soar as I/we try to satisfy the hunger of the soul searching for something “Out there”.
With each passing day I am clearer that “Out there” is “Right here” lived one day at a time, the collection of well-lived “nows”. “Out there” is a land of peace, contentment, gratitude, and the satisfaction that comes from having lived for something bigger than myself built one moment at a time beginning right now, right here.
No, there is not telling really how “Out there” will turn out if I live “Right here” in a disciplined, unselfish, serving, grateful manner. Or . . . . might there be? I believe so.
All I need to is look around. The problem is not the absence of stuff, or goals that are not lofty enough, or a host of other “you should be doings”, per se. Is it possible the problem is poor vision? Or, as Mark Twain famously remarked, “It ain’t what you don’t know. It’s what you know that ain’t so that causes trouble.”
Over a decade ago, in the work, “The Millionaire Next Door”, two Northwestern University professors working on behalf of the Trust department of a large bank were stunned into the producing of the book when they realized the formula for many with wealth was VERY different from what they believed they were seeing. For instance, rather than an expensive Armani suit, the millionaire next door had not spent a single time for a suit what it likely cost to get the cuffs hemmed on an Armani suit. Nor, did he wear a Rolex or a “Tag” or a (insert the name of any watch costing over approximately $200.00) in most cases. Further, lived in the same house for 30 plus years – long after buying a bigger, nicer one in the ‘burbs would have been easy (with cash). And, today, Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest individuals alive still lives in the same home he has for 40 plus years.
There are folks all around me quietly living in an atypical way who know the simple truth my parents, who at 80 live the most peaceful, comfortable life, serving others I know, “Out there” turns out to be a wonderful “Here” by living effectively a single moment at a time. Their lives share this in common, they understand “Out there”, “Someday”, and “When” are “Now” and “Here” lived in an emotionally mature, disciplined manner with the people around them (and everybody’s faults). Living looking for joy, which is all around in folks’ smiles, simple kindnesses, and in the opportunities to feel the fatigue of serving others who are in the next room, or apartment, or home, or block, etc.
I can start a delightful “Out there” NOW with the next conversation I have with my kids, my friend Bryan, Steve, or Linda. What the heck am I waiting on? I cannot control time. Why, as a biblical passage inquires, do I waste “Here” fretting about “There”. There is the face of here, however, I choose to live it. So me thinks it behooves me to reframe how I look at “Here” and spend less time trying to control “There”. Plan yes. Work hard to execute the plan? Yes. Grip the plan loosely because life happens and something beyond my too tightly grasped plan may require a revision, or enhancement to the plan? ABSOLUTELY!
To “Here” and its joys – may I choose to focus on it, and invest my efforts in mining those here, as well as, creating joy through emotionally mature, unselfish, effective conduct.
And, to those like Ken and Shirley Castle (aka Dad and Mom) and others who have modeled a “here” that may not be sexy in the moment but sure has created a delightful “there” for those they love.