To me, that is a given. The task is, therefore, to make it worthwhile. It is up to me, up to you, to make life enjoyable. To make us excited to get out of our beds in the morning and let the sunshine in.
The traditional ways of making it worthwhile are rapidly disappearing. Religion. Communities. Children and family. Marriage. Which means, it is increasingly up to individuals to make their lives worth it and enjoyable. In this, there is only approach--to get out there and do it. Whatever it is, well, it does not happen by itself.
Two years ago, when my daughter was graduating from college, I asked her if her friends who had not yet found jobs were concerned. “No,” she replied, “they’re not concerned about not having a job, they’re concerned about not having a narrative.”Exactly! In my teens I had ideas on what would make my life worthwhile. It changed as the years rolled on. But, I kept doing whatever it was that I did. And, looking back, the dots do connect to a neat narrative. It would be foolish of me to think that where I am today and what I am doing now to make it all worthwhile and enjoyable was exactly what I set out to do when I was in my undergraduate program or even when I joined graduate school.
Here’s the trick. The impressive narratives you see in the lives of the adults you admire emerge only in retrospect. Somehow, each one of them got from twenty, to thirty, to forty, to fifty, to sixty, and whatever the twists and turns of their chosen paths, they, by definition, emerge with a narrative that, looking backwards, connects the dots. More often than not, the narrative has a strong sense of coherence, sometimes, even, an aura of inevitability.
So the question is, how do you square the arbitrariness of your first step — or for that matter any given next step you may take along the way — with the goal of finding work over a lifetime that aligns with your deepest interests, brings you joy, and allows you to contribute to purposes larger than yourself?And the answer is ...?
if you approach whatever work you have chosen with focus and diligence and reflection, you will advance along a path — and it will be one that is authentically yours, not because of the specific steps you have chosen, but because of the way you are making the choices and processing the experiences.Sincere reflections and conscious decisions. I am confident enough that--and a whole lot of luck--is how I ended up where I am today. "E.E. Cummings once said, “It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.” Traveling the life of a Tamil Brahmin engineer in America would have been incredibly "safer" path. But, that would never have been "who you really are."