There have been several people in my life lately who have dug deep trying to understand where they were in life. Many questions emerged during the conversations. Some of the same questions seemed to come up in each conversation. People felt like they had not achieved their purpose in life. Some people talked about being lonely even through they when surrounded by lots of people. I remember three people in particular.
One person was a very successful business women in a leadership role making over six figure a year salary, yet complained that she lacked any meaning in her life. Most people around her were envious of her jet set life business suit lifestyle. But I guess what we didn’t know was the long hours she worked never leaving the office until the next day was about to start. She would go back to her 26 floor lonely loft on the lake from downtown . She would pour a glass of wine ending up in bed without eating supper. The she would repeat this cycle over and over with little deviation.
Another person I was talking to was man who was struggling with his wife of 10 years. They had children, were very close but she left him for another man. A man she had an affair with from her work. The affair ended so she returned to him and her children. He immediately took her back even though he was hurt while he was still deeply in love. At first weeks were like their honeymoon, he was happy but increasingly she was not. She became angry in some sort of reverse projection of emotion. It was as though she had blamed him for the separation. He did everything to please her attempting to gain her acceptance. He served her needs becoming a slave to her every whim. He was so empty without her when she was gone, he essential would do anything to keep her in his life. He became obsessed serving her, forgetting who he was outside of how his wife defined him.
Yet another man i was talking with complained about how after age 55 he realized how much he hated his work. He was a social worker feeling like he helped hundreds and hundreds of people by giving of himself. He felt void of emotion since it felt as though he had given everything he had, leaving nothing left for himself. He worked tirelessly helping his patients find places to live, jobs and access to health care or treatment for addiction. When he returned home each night he had no emotions left to share. He basically didn’t even wish to talk or listen to anyone. He would retreat in front of the television in a vegetative state hearing nothing around him. He sat empty and physically exhausted feeling robbed of his human existence.
As I reflected on these three people there was a common theme among them. Each person committed to something or someone. Whether committed to a boss, or career or in a romantic relationship they became defined by servanthood. In either situation there was a bond to another person so great that the person was soaked up as they lost the boundaries of their own existence. The common themes bleed across of this people’s lives. In each situation the person let something or someone define who they had become. The definition soon became someone or something that was not fulfilling leaving the person empty. So void that the person becomes lifelessly confused. They eventually became saddened by who or what they have become losing every sense of edges.
In the words of Shakespeare, “This above all, be thine my own self be true.”
Pressing deeper and in the word of Seuss, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive, yourer than you.”
However it is you wish to define yourself simply make sure it is your definition and no one else’s.