Life is a challenge. Utilizing your capabilities, pushing to become all you might be, is a relentless dare. But when you are alive, that is the homework that has been assigned to you. It is an incredible chase! It has its moments of joy and sorrow, but every single step of the chase is worthy of our energies. Regardless of the variety of "wings on your heart," the issue is the same for everyone.
Push to develop the "inside me", push to explore life, push to find those arenas that nourish you, push to find those playgrounds where you can take flight, and push to find ways to contribute to the welfare of others. I believe that specific personal ingredients must be a part of the chase. They make it happen.
The Known And The Unknown
I believe the crucial factor in the chase for human fullness is balancing the Known and the Unknown. Too much of the Known nudges us toward being complacent, uninvolved beings. Too much of the Unknown leaves us on edge, uncertain of the next steps to take, and erodes our confidence.
The Unknown is potentially frightening; that is why we often leave it alone. But if we never push ourselves to call it forth in our lives, we never challenge our internal being. And that is where the chase takes place...on the inside! Vignettes of conversations, sights, sounds, smells will come from pushing toward the Unknown.
Another vital component in the chase for human fullness is the positive power in restlessness. In fact, I believe people should cultivate that restlessness. When you feel restless, enjoy it. Explore the potential causes. Ask yourself what may have been the trigger. What may come next? What are potential answers? From restlessness comes answers to many of life's challenging issues, and exploring restlessness in this way fuels the quest for adventure and the chase for human fullness.
One cannot ignore this internal dialogue and walk away from it. Once the process has begun, it grabs hold of your thinking and taunts you to find answers. That is the power of cultivating your restlessness.
One arena where this restlessness can be put to work very effectively is the life career journey. Changes of career are potentially vehicles for fostering sensitivity, determination and self-appreciation.
Becoming Someone New On A Regular Basis
It happened that way for me. As I became involved in the chase, I attempted to become someone new on a regular basis. The process of becoming someone new did not mean shedding all that I had been and going incognito, but it meant turning my perceptions inside out and my life experiences from some very different perspectives.
Except for two years, my entire career journey has been within the realm of education. Yet, even within that arena I have managed to be a public school teacher, counselor and summer school administrator; college professor; training and development specialist at a large medical center; personnel administrator. I must be quite frank about these transitions. It was my question asking and restlessness that always taunted me into looking for something just over the horizon. "What if I tried that? I wonder if I could accomplish all those tasks they are asking for? What new skills would that call forth from me?"
I believe balancing the Known and Unknown, and cultivating restlessness are fundamental ingredients that fuel the quest for human fullness. And not just for some of us, but all of us. Becoming someone new on a regular basis and seeking new settings added energy to the chase for me. When I consider the myriad of experiences I have lived through and interactions I have had with hundreds of others, there is no doubt, no uncertainty.
The two driving questions my life are: What have I done to enrich and enhance my own being during my chase for human fullness? What have I done to add to the general welfare of others?
Proper amounts of the Unknown keep us on edge, keep us mentally alert, keep us searching. Proper amounts of the Known soothe, give us a base to set out from, give us confidence, and a "return place". The Known and the Unknown are ever present.
I believe people that are into the chase are never completely at rest. I'm happy about that! That edge of anxiety, restlessness, uncertainty fuels the quest. That does not mean people have to live their lives with massive amounts of uncertainty and doubt. It simply means that someone into the chase is always looking for another way, another explanation, another understanding. And that means people are turning their experiences inside out...to better understand them. And that is the essence of the chase!
I have talked about ways to choose the Unknown, but sometimes the Unknown chooses you. That happens with the diagnosis of a fatal disease. Following such a diagnosis, life appears to be captured on a slow motion video and the chase for human fullness is illuminated with a new brilliance. I have had a dramatic and profound experience with this illumination.
Early in 1992, I began experiencing strange things in my body. Initially, I wrote this all off to fatigue, but even with adequate rest, these symptoms did not go away. So I tracked down a neurologist, made several appointments and went through an extensive series of tests. On May 20, 1992 my wife and I met with the doctor to learn that I had been diagnosed with "Lou Gehrig's Disease".
Understanding The Unknown
If balancing the Known and the Unknown are crucial factors in the chase for human fullness, they are even more vital when one is battling a fatal disease. Perhaps a challenge for those battling terminal illness is what Anatole Broyard calls evolving your own style (Intoxicated By My Illness): "I would advise every sick person to evolve a style or develop a voice for his or her illness. In my own case I make fun of my illness. I disparage it. This wasn't a deliberate decision; the response simply came to me. Adopting a style for your illness is another way of meeting it on your own grounds, of making it a mere character in your narrative."
Your narrative? It has been your narrative from the very beginning... that's what the chase for human fullness is all about. The push to develop the inside you, the push to explore life, the push to find those arenas in which you can flourish, the push to find those playgrounds where you can take flight, and the push to explore ways to add to the welfare of others.
How does fatal disease fit into the chase for human fullness? Humans who are struggling with the abyss of fatal disease have another special task to accomplish: calm the mind and let the illumination of life in! Maybe this task can best be detailed in the way The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying (Sogyal Rinpoche) describes "Calm Abiding".
"To bring your mind home means to bring the mind into the state of Calm Abiding through the practice of mindfulness. In its deepest sense, to bring your mind home is to turn your mind inward and to rest in the nature of the mind. This itself is the highest meditation."
Make your narrative a masterpiece!
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by Sogyal Rinpoche.
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About The Author
Dr. Monte Clute taught school for over 25 years. He was a faculty member at Lesley College in Cambridge, MA and has taught overseas in Greece and Italy. In 1992, he was diagnosed with "Lou Gehrig's Disease," which prompted him to consider the meaning and direction of his life. Monte Clute (1940-1995) was a former Avondale, Rochester and Waterford educator and administrator. He was an avid runner, traveler and accomplished photographer.