January 17 – Reboot the Real Work

I am your teacher and you are learning in my school. My aim is to bring you to completion, unhindered, free from compulsive behavior, unrestrained, without shame, free, flourishing, and happy, looking to God in things great and small – your aim is to learn and diligently practice all these things. Why then don’t you complete the work, if you have the right aim and I have both the right aim and right preparation? What is missing?…The work is quite feasible, and is the only thing in our power…Let go of the past. We must only begin. Believe me and you will see.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 2.19.29-34

My first thought in reading today’s meditation was this Henry David Thoreau quote.

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

Who do we learn from? From what can we learn? When observing someone we admire we learn the right path. When observing someone we do not admire we can turn inward to determine what we find reprehensible. Is that character trait something we exhibit?

Today’s meditation reminds us that life is a teacher, and it’s our responsibility to respond with a forward thinking attitude. How do we do that? We trust that we have surrounded ourselves with teachers who have our best interests at heart. We trust that our discerning mind is humble and honest. We trust that any mistake we have made is simply an opportunity to be better.

This isn’t some feel-good pop psychology masquerading as wisdom.

On tonight’s episode of This Is Us, Jack (father of the triplets) finds himself at a golf course. His friend Miguel is showing him how a golf course serves as an escape from the responsibilities of a “nagging” wife and “crying” children. Jack explains that he doesn’t want an escape from them. He actually wants to freeze every moment because they are fleeting, and far too soon we find ourselves only remembering these moments.

Jack decided what is important enough to work for. Family.

We work at our marriage. We work at being a good parent. We work at being a reliable friend. We work at being a good student. A good employee. A good teammate.

At times we will find ourselves in the throes of regret. It’s part of being human.We cannot remain in regret because regret tethers us to the past. Every day is a new beginning. I say again, this isn’t some feel-good pop psychology masquerading as wisdom. Consider how Thoreau framed it. What is the price of that regret? What is it keeping you from?

The best way to spend life wisely is with a clarity of mind. Learn from your teachers and diligently practice. There is no going backwards.

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