What is Your Life?

James 4:14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

man with beard wearing brown headscarf

In art, it is said that what remains of a piece of art is the important element of the piece. Many times I find ideas from a snippet of someone else. It may be a long article, or just the thumbnail that catches my attention. And the final product of my idea isn’t always what the original article was about.

I was reading an article that began with this story, as they called it a ‘parable’ that went like this:

“In elementary school my parents told me it didn’t matter what I did when I grew up, so long as it made me happy. ‘Happiness is the whole point of life,’ my father said. ‘But it doesn’t always come easy. Your mother loves to help people in need, so she became a psychiatric nurse. I love reading, writing and poetry, so I became an English teacher. We both find happiness in the hard work we do each day.’

A few years later when I was in junior high, my sixth-grade homeroom teacher put me in detention for ‘being difficult.’ She went around the classroom and asked each student what they wanted to be when they grew up. When she got to me, I told her I wanted to be happy. She told me I was missing the whole point of the question. I told her she was missing the whole point of life.”

That came from a longer article by Marc and Angel /HackLife written by Marc Chernoff

The article is one of encouragement on finding our passion but… it didn’t exactly follow the standard procedure of pursuing what makes you happy. Which, as the above parable suggests, we can find our passion as a reflection in something outside of ourselves.

What is wrong with that view? Many people don’t know what their passion is and they continually wait, looking around for their passion to show up and inspire them. And they wait and wait, and wait some more. Then they reach the end of their life and wonder what happened.

I remember when I was in middle school wondering what I wanted to do when I grew up or at least got out of school. I thought about being a farmer, but back at that time, single women weren’t considered eligible to be farmers. They could be farmer’s wives, but it wasn’t until the seventies that women began to break into the leadership role in farming.

My mother at the end of her life was a waitress, and I thought that might be a possibility. I enjoyed painting and artwork, but what could an untrained person do in a career as an artist? In retrospect, I probably would have ended up in medicine of some sort, but then it isn’t what might have been that matters.

It’s a scientific fact that water takes the path of least resistance. In training a horse we were told the rule was to make it harder for the animal to do anything except for what you want them to do. Humans are often much the same as water and training a horse. The path of least resistance is very often where we go. If we have a fork in our road we take it, as Yogi Berra would say.

Therefore, as we go wending our way through life, we aren’t really thinking we will find happiness just around the bend by pursuing our passion. We are attempting to find the easiest and best solution in our lives. A new step so to speak. Maybe we are looking for ‘where the Lord is leading’, or the path of least resistance.

Lately, I feel as if I’m on a quest reading and looking for something. I do find many items, some of which are worth passing on. I “borrowed” these last lines from a much longer poem from a FaceBook share from a poet, Mário Raul de Morais Andrade. The first line reads, “I counted my years and found that I have less time to live from here on than I have lived up to now.” (In case someone wants to look up and read the entire poem…) The last lines read:

“My goal is to reach the end satisfied   (the end of life, of course)

and at peace with my loved ones

and my conscience.

We have two lives.

And the second begins when you realize you only have one.” (the second life begins when…)

~Mário Raul de Morais Andrade (Oct 9, 1893 – Feb 25, 1945)

Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian and critic, photographer

The whole poem, which is a thoughtful good poem, is on how little we value the first part of our life, until we realize—as the first part of the poem says—we have less life left to live. At that point, if we are smart we slow down and begin to savor the important things in our lives. And yes, many times our vision changes. We desire peace with our loved ones, and within ourselves, but we should desire especially peace with God.

“(27) And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house; (28) for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. (29) But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. (30) And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. (31) And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead.  (Luke 16:27-31)