Knowing What You Want

I ran across an interesting post by modern mystic Carl McColman. In it, he describes going to a writing retreat and forming the discipline of writing. But not just writing. He describes his reflection on discipline itself: “Discipline is knowing what you want.” I believe that’s it in a nutshell. Think about it. If we know what we want we will go to any lengths necessary to get there. So now, all I have to figure out is what I want. Hmmm.

I want a peaceful and loving family life with my husband and children (now grown)

I want good health

I want peace of mind about spiritual matters

I want enough money to live on and perhaps a bit more to enjoy taking vacations, etc.

I want (I need) to write

I think that’s about it. I don’t necessarily want any esoteric political ideal or anything like that because I know it will never happen. Most of my wants are here and now. So what is the discipline necessary to carry out these things? The discipline of loving compassion in family life. Well, I think that my husband and I have worked fairly hard to achieve that end and it shows. I do not ever worry about home life so that it intrudes on other areas of my life. Of all the areas, home is the most stable.

The discipline of work and doing good work to keep that money coming in is probably the largest of our wants in this life next to family life. This is also simple. I don’t believe in the adage that all anyone has to do is do the work that they love and the money will follow. Most of us work to live not the other way around. There is the RARE individual that loves what they do and can’t believe they get paid for it usually because they are born with some innate and obvious talent or they are born into fortuitous families or circumstances, but most of us are not in those situations. So when we do find work that isn’t a hardship, I think it’s almost a duty to do our best there. Since thinking about changing jobs has occupied much of my time lately. This is an important discipline area for me. What am I willing to work for? What is it that I want out of work? Since I have been thinking about it so much, I think I know what I want. I have no “career goal” wherein I know the role I am to play and I go out and fulfill it. Nope. My only goal in working is to bring home cash to enable me to do other things. In other words, I guess I no longer care whether my job is a reflection of who I am or not. The only thing I did in that arena is to go to college and get a couple degrees. But I did it for my own interests and not with a job in mind. Some see that as a waste, but I don’t see it that way. The learning is the fun part. The outcome was irrelevant. I just happened to find a job that allows me all the free time I need to pursue other things. I think that’s all I was seeking to begin with.

My wants of spirituality and writing seem to go hand in hand, because the former is a definite spur toward the latter. To keep writing with vigor and with pleasure, I need to discipline my spiritual life as others do. So what do I want in that category? I want peace of mind, meaning, I want to be settled in my faith and beliefs about spirituality. For that, I have to practice it. Learn and practice, learn and practice. Which means, I have to find a discipline (or practice) that gets me what I want spiritually. I have to feed my soul. I have to feed it with whatever it needs to grow and be nurtured, right? For some reason, my soul desires a “oneness” with the divine. I don’t know why it is so, but it is. All I can say is that this desire came upon me, I did not grab hold of it. That’s what’s so bloody bizarre about faith. It’s not something that I work at. In fact, is always something I try to work against, but to no avail. So what feeds this faith? Why writing and studying of course. I cannot do one without the other. I am not creative. I cannot paint or draw or compose music. All I can do is read what others say, write about it, and apply it in a practical manner. That’s it.

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