Monday, December 2, 2013

Wrestling with Socrates

Socrates versus Neo, or, um, Ted 
A life unexamined is not worth living. - Socrates

Every time I run across this quote it takes me aback. A life unexamined is not worth living?!!!

How about you? Do you believe it? Do you examine your life? Do you take time to look at yourself and figure out what the heck you're doing? Does it make your life worth living? (Forgive me, but I always get a little introspective when we head into the holidays and into colder weather. When it's cold outside, I examine life more. But I live in a mostly warm place, so I don't examine too closely. The whole thing explains the quality of Siberian writers to me. You seldom hear about the great Bahamian novelists - the weather is too nice.)

But I do make an effort to examine life fairly often. Many years ago, a young woman named Ginny handed me a blank journal and said, "It's your turn." I have been writing ever since.

When the writing is going well, I do examine life. I count blessings. I recognize missteps. I correct the course. I get things into perspective. I plan for betterment.

In neutral times, I make lists and document the daily comings and goings of a pretty average life.

When it's going badly, I do all of the things listed above, but poorly and with a negative slant.

When it's going really badly, I do not write at all, and life goes unexamined.

For me, it is one of the springs for the whole Mesquite Hugger thing. I examine what I do, I loosely categorize it, and then I decide what to do with it, and how things could be made better.

When I do examine my life, I try to categorize how I spend my time: positive, neutral, and downright bad.

Positive: spending time with family, spending time in worship, walking the skinny dogs, spending time with friends, making life better for others, teaching people how to make life better for others, fixing things, learning, time spent in nature, reading. (Just imagine the Mesquite Hugger joy for me if I could synthesize some of these things into a string - learning about some thing that makes the world a better place for others, building that thing, teaching friends how to build that thing...)

Neutral: washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning house, all the stuff that makes life no better or worse but does help one to exist in this world.

Downright Bad: time in front of mindless TV, dwelling on the negative, shopping for shopping's sake, playing video games, wasting resources, sitting around the house, focusing on depressing news stories, analysis paralysis.

May you have a friend like Ginny and a teacher like Socrates, and may your life's analysis bring you joy and improvement!