Today’s writing assignment for #Writing101 from the Blogging University is a post of Lists. The choices were things I like, things I’ve learned, and things I wish. While this is primarily the 2nd choice, a bit of the 3rd will show up as well.
While I have never claimed to be wise or especially smart (just very strong in my opinions, very firm in my dedication to certain values, and willing to apply logic and reasoning to almost any disagreement), I have managed to learn a few things in my 5+ decades of life.
10 Things That Matter
1) Health — if you are not healthy, it is very hard to enjoy life, to produce anything worthwhile, or to be at your best for those who matter in your slice of the world
2) Family — even if you don’t always like your family members, that relationship is a big determinant of who you are and what you learned from your family (both good and bad) explains more about why you react the way you do in many circumstances than anything else. At their best, family can give you a firm ground from which to build, a set of wings to fly, and a vision of where you want to go. At their worst, they can teach you all sorts of dysfunctional ways to sort of get along in the world without ever achieving even a small portion of what you may be capable of.
3) Friends — relationships with your friends are the second most important ones in your life. If you are fortunate enough to find a friend who fits with you so well that you marry them, this relationship and any that grow out of it will be as important and, possibly more important, than your family. Even if you never get married, friendships are worth all the work that they require.
4) Passion — whatever moves you to get out of bed in the morning and gets your blood pumping and your mind working, that is your passion. Pursue it. Practice it. Get so freaking good at it that people will throw money at you to collect the results.
5) Companions — those whom you help and who help you but whom you don’t consider friends are vital connections to the interdependent web of life. Whether these are pets, companion animals, kids of your neighbors, or strangers whom you help through serving at a soup kitchen or volunteering in some way, if you applied your time, energy, caring, and money in assisting them or they did the same for you, they matter.
6) Values — Only you can say what your values are, but if you don’t say, others will tell you and try to convince you that theirs are the only ones that matter. I place a high value on truth, justice, mercy, understanding, logic, reason, knowledge, education, courage, love, and faith. I like to see kindness and empathy in play, but will admit that I am not always so good at showing those myself.
7) Laughter and Whimsy — Far too many of us take ourselves and our disputes with the world and those in it too blinking seriously. We can all use some stress-releasing laughter, some silliness, some whimsy in our lives. If you go for an entire day without laughing, you have my sympathy, as that is a day that you spent in darkness while the sun was shining all around you.
8) Character — There is an old saying that goes: What you do speaks so loudly that I can not hear what you are saying. While we will never know what your internal narrative may be or who you are inside your own head, your character is shown by what you do and how you do it. Actions are what matters — those and the feelings they leave behind in those affected by them. If your character does not match your stated beliefs, I (and many others) will not trust that you actually believe what you say you do. Hypocrisy is a form of lying, either lying to yourself or to others, and almost none of us like a hypocrite.
9) Rest and relaxation — We all need time during each day to rest and relax. Some of us take naps; some play games; some sleep extra on the weekends, as if you could actually make up the sleep deficit accrued during the week (raises hand for all 4). If you’re not taking some R&R every day, you will find it harder to hold on to relationships, to stick to your values, and to be the person you can be.
10) Goals — Passion and relationships and values and character should all give you plenty of motivation to make a difference in your corner of the world. Whether it be serving as a volunteer, working for a worthwhile cause, writing a book, going to work every day and doing what it takes to be successful there, keeping house and helping your kids grow up to be awesome people, or anything else, without goals, life can become humdrum and boring. Goals are what spur us on to achieve.
5 Things That Don’t Matter
- Partisan Politics — no matter which party you support or vote for, ultimately, a politician will be elected and whoever gives them the most money will have a much bigger voice than you will. Unless you have deep pockets or you are part of a large group which has strong lobbying programs, partisan politics only matter in a limited way. We can all get caught up in the drama of it, we can all see that it impacts our daily lives, but the average citizen has never had much influence on what our elected representatives and their hired or appointed agents do. And those in power love to see us divided along partisan lines, as it keeps our anger and resentment over the wrongs they did to us pointed at each other, instead of at them.
- Organized Religion — while it is important to have a faith tradition, some means of making sense of the big questions that every heart yearns to know the answers to, organized religion is far more likely to steer you away from the Deity as it is to point you toward Him (or Her or Them). Having been raised a Christian, I find a great deal of value and worth in much of the Christian faith, but the actual churches spend far too much of their time, wealth, and energy on activities and actions that would never have been approved by Jesus, if what the Bible tells us is to be believed. Other religious traditions seem to suffer from the same problem, regardless of what faith may be involved. Being in relationship with the Holy and with the people who are children of the Holy is vital. All the foofarol of organized religion, not so much.
- Money — we all need a supply of money in order to buy the necessities of life and to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Beyond that, it is just not that important, and pursuing it to the exclusion of other values is a big factor in what ails the world and people today.
- Security — it is an illusion that we are ever secure. Anyone’s home can be invaded, by police with or without a warrant; by criminals in search of items to sell or guns to use in further crimes; by bugs and storms and other disasters that will destroy the house. Anyone’s body can be attacked, no matter where we may be at the time. Anyone’s financial and other records can be hacked, copied, exposed, altered, and otherwise messed with, and often times are in ways that we will never know about. Security is an illusion. It does not matter. If we stop worrying about being secure, we can focus on making the world such a better place that no one will feel the need to attack or invade or destroy another.
- Opinions held by other people — why do we care what other people think ? Especially when it comes to what they think about us, their opinions do not matter unless they actually limit us in some way. Most of the time, they only limit or hinder us because we let them do so. If they are someone close to you, a family member, friend, or work-related person, then their opinions MAY be worth taking note of. Otherwise, let this pass over you like a bit of smoke from a distant fire that has already been extinguished, as it is of no concern.
I hope you found these lists of use and that you will comment below on what matters and what doesn’t matter to you.