This is a question that has been marinading in me for weeks, months, years. It goes alongside questions such as, what should I do with the limited time I have? What is the most skilful way of meeting my goals? What ARE my goals?
Of course, I know that in reality there are a whole jumble of motivations getting me up in the morning and driving me forwards. Most of these are self-seeking in some way. Ooh, I can have those juicy raspberries with my breakfast. Ooh, I can write a blog so people can appreciate my brilliance. Ooh, if I’m nice to that person then I can prove to myself and to others that I am a very kind person indeed.
These motivations aren’t necessarily bad, especially if they result in me doing good stuff. But they are all ultimately doomed to fail as Trying To Make Me Happy. The taste of raspberries is luscious, of course. And it soon passes. People sometimes do appreciate my writing, and then they move on before I’ve had ‘enough’ affirmation. I eventually see that sometimes I am a very kind person and often I am not.
I’m currently in conversation with Brother Lawrence, who lived in the 17th Century. He told me: “Our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works. Instead, it depended on doing that for God’s sake which we commonly do for our own”. He also said, with particular reference to my affirmation-seeking, that the most excellent method he’d found for ‘going to God’ was that of “doing our common business without any view of pleasing men but for the love of God.”
A translation for those who are allergic to the ‘G’ word – if we can do our ordinary everyday work with love, as an offering for the Universe, then everything else will look after itself.
How would it be to live my life without worrying about what individual people thought about it? Without needing to manipulate them into giving me something or to behave in certain ways? How would it be to see work not as ‘something I have to do’ and instead an opportunity to engage with the world and make offerings?
I ponder these questions with a realistic view of what is possible, both knowing my track record!, and also with an open heart and mind, knowing that anything is possible. In asking them, I catch glimpses of freedom, peace, revolution, relief, excitement, joy…
What are good questions for you on the theme of why you do stuff? What might unlock possibilities for you?