Throughout most of my life, I have followed the philosophy of playing hard and working hard.
My vacations were almost always to a place or doing something that would allow me to accumulate more knowledge and values to inject back into my working life. I went to Ethiopia to build houses with Habit for Humanity; I went to Uganda to witness the grassroots projects facilitated by Global Volunteer Network, I participated in learning programmes to better equip myself for volunteer projects; I educated myself in my line of profession to better understand how I could effectively contribute to my working life; and closer to home I would help relatives improve their quality of life through D.I.Y. projects. On the occasion when I went on a typical chill out holiday, I was not always satisfied and sometimes there was a hint of guilt mixed in. On reflection, learning something, anything useful, was my mode of operandi on vacations, without consciously having such an aim or objective. From my experience, the most effective way of learning, is to do it yourself. Learning is growing and growing is living. We are capable of learning until the moment we die. If we are not learning something useful, in my opinion, we are not living.
But then, there came a time when playing hard and working hard became exhaustive, such that work lost its meaning, life lost its purpose, and learning almost lost its drive. I say almost, because at the heart of soul, the lesson of life always beckons, even if it is just a small flicker of a flame, it is still hopeful that one day, attention will turn within, and the true lessons will begin. I was so focussed on learning what I could from out there, that, in the endless whirlwind of opinions, advice and gurus, I lost my own direction. My own purpose. I hadn’t even thought about what my own life experiences were telling me. This was a big lesson for me.
Turning within and learning the lessons of my own experiences was, and still is, a courageous and conscious decision I make every day. The most useful things to learn about, are the lessons in your own life. Our lives are like a jigsaw puzzle, unique to the self and yet the full picture is unknown to the self. Self-observation and self-reflection at each step, allows one to piece one’s own meaning, purpose and drive back together again. It allows one to focus and direct one’s own life toward its full and destined potential.
But there is a key ingredient, without which it is easy to fall back into the whirlwind of opinions. That ingredient is the sweetness of spirituality and soul conscious awareness. Spirituality is the oil I pour into the heart of the soul to keep the flame of hope ignited. It is sweet, nutritious and 100% pure. I need no opinions or advice of others, including my own (reactive schemas of thought can be as debilitating as the opinions and advice of others!). But at the same time, I value the experience and wisdom shared by my peers, and if useful, I adopt them as my own. I also appreciate and feel gratitude towards the people in my life who have been influential in manifesting my life lessons. If it weren’t for the constant pushing, or the criticisms, or the unsolicited advice, I would not have noticed my own shortcomings.
The result is, I no longer need to work hard to impress, conform or fulfil the desires of others, because my interactions do not have to be reactive. Instead, my responses can come from a space of silence within, a place where I am on constant vacation. I don’t get it right all the time, it is a work-in-progress, but I have found it to be the best direction to live a responsible life free from the burden of responsibility. Now, I play hard by feeding my soul conscious awareness, and I work easy by interacting soul consciously. I feel one hundred times fortunate to be living a life where all my lessons come from within, with a token of gratitude to all mothers who are teachers, and all teachers who have a mothering quality. Thank you.