Friday, August 13, 2010

What Planets Are We On?

A friend gave word the other day of a job switch. It sounded like one of those "Take this job and shove it" stories, subtitled, "Life is too short."

With recession still full-tilt, this made me ask "What planet are you on?"

Turns out, one where there's no life.

You ever live on a planet where there's no life?

I live on several planets everyday. Faith. Family. Friends. Job. Hobbies.

Mostly, there's lots of life on my planets. Places where I'm nourished. Energized. Filled with purpose, fueled by passion. Places where trust is high. Fear is low. And gifts of Life are in full bloom.

But some planets there's no life. Everything's dead. You can't breathe.

Planets with no life speak language like "I should" or "I'm afraid" or "What'll they think" or "What's the use" or "Who do you think you are" or "You need to" or "That'll never work" or "You don't have a choice"...

Seems like the hardest thing to do every day is knowing what planet I'm on.

One of my heroes is Ignatius of Loyola, the medieval fellow who started the Jesuits. Four hundred-plus years ago, he invented an exercise to help figure out what planet we're on. He called it The Examen.

It's a short exercise, best performed with a slice of quiet wherever you can carve that into your day. Simply begin with awareness of where you are and gratitude for where you're at.

Then reflect on your day and take note of those areas where you found energy, purpose, passion, maybe even a sense of peacefulness. Likewise notice those areas where life was on edge, dry, defeating, anxious.

And that's it. No need for decisions or judgement. Just awareness of places where there's life and places with no life. With that awareness, Ignatius figured folks would make better choices and live better lives.

"Where's life?"

It's a good question to ask often. Way better than the one I usually ask, "How's life?"

My friend is smart to have listened to simple, piercing words like that. And then ask,

"What planet am I on?"

Most admirable is seeing someone who trusted the answer, and had the guts to pack up and move from the dead zone to a place where there's life.


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1 comment:

  1. The nature of life's journey is truly one of mystery. A journey ill-marked with thanks to the fog assigned to the human condition. Acceptance of the mystery is all that is required to make room for the subtle movings of the Architect.