One must edge forward like the inchworm, bit by bit. The gods and Buddhas, too, first started with a vow.
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure
I have been thinking about the rest of my life. It’s funny that out of billions of unique lives there are perhaps relatively fewer patterns than many traverse. I am in the latter half of my thirties, and I am more thoughtful of the future.
How have I spent my time in the past, how do I spend my time now, and how do I wish to spend my time in the future? That is the impetus behind my (all?) goal setting. The quest for a life well lived. In my reflection on January I noticed that I need to set new goals. I don’t yet know what goals to set or how to measure them. This is an exercise to reflect on the foundational elements of what I want out of life long term. In what direction should my goals point me?
Virtues and Values
This is a non-exhaustive list of principles around which I would like to build my life. I have tried, but not entirely succeeded, to avoid clichés.
Love. This was not originally at the top of my list, but without it there is no root to justify any further value. Compassion begets all other virtues.
Health. My body is my inescapable home. My usefulness decays with it, and when it is eventually destroyed I will be no good to anyone. To be a good father, husband, citizen, and human, I need my health.
Family. By blood, by choice, or by both, these are the most intimate relationships I have. I am not sure that in a purely moral sense one is beholden to one’s family, but I choose to behave as if I am.
Community. This is an area in which I struggle. I have only rarely felt a sense of Belonging. But this is really only the next circle out from family. I am not alone, and therefore I must not pretend I am an island.
Acceptance. I am but one small part of an endless whole. Although I may move mountains metaphorically, I will not spend my time attempting to move them literally.
Knowledge. Some things cannot be cut short, and others are more pleasurable to find out the hard way, but the rest should be learned. The land we’re in has well trod paths and known (or assumed) borders. Wisdom will mark my place and guide me.
Humanity. Man may or may not be the highest power on the earth itself, but its creations are below it. Tools and technology must serve to elevate the best parts of ourselves, not bring the worst to the fore.
Pragmatism. Although I love idealism and all other forms of non-violent fanaticism, I want to feel the pleasure of my constant inchworm crawl.
Wealth. Although may be no accepted definition of fair share, I am certainly not entitled to more than mine. But that does not mean that it is a sin to gain from my Creation, an ultimately human act.
Charity. I have enjoyed and continued to enjoy many advantages, and I would like to raise everyone to that level (and above). Generosity and Hospitality are perhaps more personal, and I enjoy them.
Steadiness. You cannot see your reflection in a rippling lake, and you cannot build a stable home on unsteady ground. I am slowing down on purpose.
Adventure. Slow down too much and you stop. I have no wish to stop.