When my birthday approached last July I was inspired to attempt a summary of my outlook on life after 35 years. I’m pretty sure I’ve been thinking for most of that time, so I asked myself, “Have I reached any conclusions yet? Do I have any idea what my life has been, or what I want it to be?” Then I got busy living again and never wrote a thing, but continued thinking, as always. Maybe it was too scary to risk revealing how little I had to show for so much cognition. Tonight, though, the subject got in my head again and is keeping me awake, so perhaps it’s time to settle it. The smallness of it actually seems like an accomplishment at the moment. I think I can boil my vision of my life as a human, past and future, into a few concise stages of progress:
- Learn to survive in an environment.
- Discover what I value most in my environment.
- Pursue my values to maximize them in my life.
- Contrast my values and environment with others.
- Learn how my environment is shaped.
- Promote an environment that maximizes and nutures my values.
That’s it! So simple. Granted, some of the stages are tantamount to unraveling the meaning of life. Maybe I’m yet to find some better way to spend my time!
At 35, I think I’m more or less at stage 3, exploring stage 4, and able to guess what the next stages might be.
At best, I feel like this little list could represent something like the Maxwell’s Equations of my life. I can write them on the board, and they may very well be true, but reading them may raise many more questions than answers. That’s the nature of summaries, generalizations, and conclusions, I think. The whole story of Maxwell’s equations can only be told by a universe of light, and the whole story of my list can only be told by spending 35 years in my head. Which makes the short list much more attractive, doesn’t it?
Maybe I’ll get the urge to expand on some of the stages. Tonight I feel relieved to have written them down. Will I be able to sleep now?