Saturday, May 30, 2015
It is not in the goal we are aided but in the direction. Our goals in life should supply us with benchmarks, targets along the way. Instead some of us become so obsessed with arriving at our destination that we miss the entire journey. A life well lived is a process and not a conclusion. In the end it is our stride rather than our swiftness that will ultimately win the day.
An artist focuses on one stroke at a time and a craftsman on a single effort in the process. Neither of them invests their devotion to the conclusion but to the means at hand. When Michelangelo was painting the now famous ceiling at the Sistine Chapel, Pope Julius II repeatedly asked him over a 4 year period “when will you make it end,” to which the artist continually answered “when it is finished.” The magnificence of this work came about one single stroke at a time. The artist planned extensively but it was in the execution that the plan became a reality. If Michelangelo was devoted to the conclusion rather than the process, as was Pope Julius II, one of the most breathtaking works of art that has ever existed may not have come to fruition. The artist did indeed have lofty goal but to him the completion of this work became a direction toward which he devoted himself.
Much stress in life comes from our focusing on the ends at the expense of the means. Real satisfaction is achieved in our devotion to process. If we wish to accomplish anything of lasting value we must first gain the expertise required, plan well and execute the plan. Planning must precede execution and both should contain our dedication to excellence. If we rush the process or try to skip steps we will have surrendered the opportunity for excellence. When we awoke in flesh and bone this day it was not to experience tomorrow but today, one activity at a time. When in pursuit of our goal we manipulate the result at the expense of the experience fear and anguish will result.
A body in continual stress will break down and suffer a variety of illnesses. Yet it is not necessary to continue in this direction. We can change our course but it takes constant effort. We may over time have developed the habit of creating stress in our life. Consequently changing this requires our constant attention. Each and every time we fall back on old habits we must respond with new ways to express our self. Yes we can change right now but we will find we must do so each and every moment of the day. If we are addicted to stress it may not have developed in a single day, so it is unlikely we will change our responses instantly. But we can resolve in a moment to try every moment to devote our lives to processes instead of results. The world will change for us one moment at a time and when our mind cries out “when will it be done” our heart will answer “when it is finished.”