Living a “second-degree” life can be deadly — so goes the hype posited by those in our culture who have decided that it is imperative to live what they may see as a “first-degree life,” or the “good life” if you will. The purpose of such a life is in striving to reach certain personal or career goals in a particular length of time while consuming much, becoming influential, staying young, fit and beautiful, and amassing great wealth. Much has already been written about the folly of pursuing a version of life that has the individual at the center of his or her own universe with every need and want gratified and their engagements with others reduced to the depth of an oil slick.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that such individuals are “bad” or any worse they any other person on this planet. In fact, when many who have pursued such a life finally become satiated with all the things they have achieved and are mourning the lack of meaningful relationships, they may actually turn altruistic and start giving back.
However, the reality is that most of us have lives where we don’t achieve some — or even most– of these life goals. Many do not receive fortune, power, health, glory, love, or even a roof over their heads — no matter how much they strive. Many are constantly being disappointed by situations and people and wonder if they will ever achieve anything worthwhile in their whole lives ever. (I have actually thought this myself a few times). Such is the second-degree life.
But that life is not all dark clouds and rain. Many of us are simply called to persevere through the disappointments and trials of life and hope for the best. The burdens we carry during our trek enables us to be compassionate and kind towards others who carry the same burdens. Yes, there are times when I want to forego the character-development lessons that life tosses me and just not have to worry that I will have enough money to pay the bills. However, most times I see that my disappointments with circumstances and people are for the best in the long run (“dodged a bullet” is an expression that comes to mind) and that my life’s purpose is simply to strive towards contentment.
There are even some who come to terms with such a life and actually achieve joy in it. This is especially true for those who have a faith-tradition that urges them to focus not on the “whats” in life, but on the “Who”. They walk through life with a peace and contentment that is sometimes beyond understanding.
Sometimes our purpose is simply being able to get out bed in the morning, put on our poker faces and play the hands we are dealt. The goal is to do this with as much grace and dignity as possible and find joy and fulfillment along the path.
For me, that truly is a first degree life worthy of striving.
ljgloyd (c) 2016