‘Tis the season to make goals, again. I try to avoid the season, but as the days go by I can’t escape the obligation to seek some purpose and direction in my life. Even though I have proven over the years that I prefer to live adrift aimlessly to and fro, living in the moment, as they say, wasting time.
Goals as abstract thoughts and imagination are so pure, beautiful, and innocent, so right and true when we give birth to them at the beginning, but then living gets in the way and makes a messy affair of our best-laid plans. Life it seems is quite found of throwing distractions, fatigue, and imperfect people in our way. There seems to be some force, evil afoot that is very determined to keep us from bettering ourselves.
This world does seems inimical to mere wishing and good intentions. To my dismay, it does not very often reward the lazy and the idle. My first-hand experience has shown that it is very difficult to make something of one’s self surfing the Internet, binge watching TV, eating pizza, or playing video games. Unfortunately, as tradition would have it achieving one’s goals requires work, sweat, determination, help, endurance, a bit of luck and many, many tender mercies. It also appears that failure is part of the equation.
Failure and the woe that follows are probably the central reasons for why we give up on or shy away from making goals the older we get. This is because they are brutally frank measures of how fallible and human we are. It’s tough to become more than we are and most of us at some point in time are satisfied just being us no matter how messy or miserable it may make us from time to time.
Despite all that stands in the way of achieving our goals, it is said by the masters of ancient wisdom that goal-making is necessary. Life must have purpose, by Jove! Having goals our necessary to our happiness, even when our summers turn to winter. On this journey through this life, we need to be useful to others and ease each other’s burdens by developing our talents and our personalities.
We are told to make the most of our time and cease to idle and make “our house of a house of order….we should provide time for family, time for work, time for study, time for service, time for recreation, time for self—but above all, time Christ.” This is a daunting list of things to do when you scratch the surface of what this all means.
This is enough to make one feel that they must have every hour of their day programmed and all goals and objectives must be measured. Lists are made, calories counted, books tallied, distances measured, etc. Anxiety sets in and goals soon become a burden to be shed. Far from liberating us, they start to restrict us as we get stuck in a brutal routine, stuck in our own personal eddies.
While quantities certainly matter, the quality of our relationships with other humans and with God matter even more. We need a purpose in our lives, we need to develop patience, charity, mercy, kindness, and above all we must learn to understand and love others unconditionally, no small task when you find even loving other people conditionally difficult. Virtue and righteousness should be the foundation that we build all our goals upon.
It is true, life is short, ‘a blinking of an eye’, but it is empty and vain, all but a chatter, if all we ever do is give in to our unsubstantial desires and pleasures, live in the moment, before we are hurled into the dust. Little value is gained, little bliss is experienced, and little self-discovering is made without us clumsily pursuing our goals and conquering fate and circumstance, giving ourselves a chances break the spell, giving us wings to flee from hell.