The story of my life. “You are where HE intended you to be. But often, where HE wants you is a place many others don’t think you should go. And when you are in HIS place, the blessings will flow in abundance.”
Isaac Addae, circa 2014
Today my 2004 Honda Civic officially logged over 100,000 miles. Leading up to this milestone, I was planning to capture the magical moment and share it with my social network. Somehow I totally missed the 100k mark, and just so happened to glance at the dashboard as it was turning to 100,001. Oh well, that’s first world problem right?
As my car hit the 100k milestone, I reflected on the relatively problem-free duration of ownership. While somewhat dated (if you consider ten years to be old) the car has provided the reliability one expects from a Japanese brand. Although it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles I desire, the car meets my basic requirement, safely getting me from point A to point B. I’m certainly looking forward to getting another 100,000 miles out of the car (unless I upgrade to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class I’ve longed for) and I’m definitely going to step up the care I provide to the vehicle.
After thinking about my car’s milestone, I began correlating its journey with my own life journey. Just like the car, throughout my life I’ve lived through many ups and downs, sunshine and rain, good days and bad. There are even times when I’ve neglected maintaining my physical health just like I’ve often skipped maintenance checks for the car. For the most part, I’ve taken good care of the car from an operational perspective, but I’ve also gone long periods without taking time out to keep the car in pristine condition with regular car washes, etc. I’m also guilty of pushing myself so hard at times, that I’ve failed to maintain the physical and mental health needed to ensure longevity in life.
Even though I’ve only lived around 30 years, it feels like I’ve crammed a lifetime of stress and strain into that timeframe. I recognize that I’ve subjected myself to extreme levels of pressure in pursuit of my life’s goals. What I’m now realizing more that ever is the importance of regular maintenance and care needed for a sound mind and body. In order to survive another thirty years, I’ll have to more effectively balance my family responsibilities with career and academic pursuits.
Unlike the car I drive on a daily basis, there is no way to easily replace me, or anyone else for that matter. We’ve only been given one life to live. As the world continues to change and the pressures to do more with less continue to be pushed upon us, it is critical to focus on maintaining sound physical and mental health. While providing the maintenance needed to push my car to the next 100,000 miles, I’m also going to increase the level of attention I give to my own health. Hopefully by the time I upgrade to the luxurious E-Class Benz, my own physical and mental health will be considered premium or top-of-the-line.
I always find it amusing when I randomly come across pieces of paper on which I’ve jotted notes about future goals. These random moments may not actually be all that random though. They tend to occur at times when I’m confused about the direction my life is heading. It’s during those times when I question every aspect of my existence.
However, when I read the note where I’ve written my goals, the picture becomes clear again. As if a future version of my self (that has already achieved everything I intend to do) appears out of no where with my future already scripted out. That person on paper seems so amazing to me, and I can’t wait to meet him. I know this might sound crazy, but hey, I’m just being honest.
If there’s any lesson to take from my ramblings, it’s this. During a rare moment of clarity, jot notes about what you want your future to be. Then stick those notes in the most obscure places. You’ll thank yourself later when you become frustrated with the path you’re on, and one of those notes pops up and reminds you of your purpose. Stay focused, don’t quit, set goals.
I came across these powerful words on Facebook the other day, and thought it would be worthwhile to share. I’ve always been focused on living life in a way that fulfills my purpose, while also engaging in things that I’m passionate about. It may not always be possible to connect your vocation to your passion, but I believe that this is a goal we should all strive for. Achieving this goal may require you to make difficult changes, and you may not always have the support of the people in your inner circle. But sometimes you have to trust in yourself, and make a leap of faith. Once you get to a place where your passion is directly connected to how you make a living, you’ll never want to go back.
When I was a kid I would always ask my father numerous questions about why things were the way they were. “Why did you do that?” “Where are you going?” Why did you name me Isaac?” The list of questions was endless as I had, and still have, an insanely inquisitive mind. Despite the seriousness in my voice when asking questions, my father would always jokingly reply, “Because ‘y’ has a long tail!” We would both laugh hysterically and my question would go unanswered. I guess this was his way of temporarily quelling my thirst for knowledge. As an adult I still wonder about various things as if I were a child all over again and pose questions to myself. Instead of getting my father’s canned response, I often answer my own question by stating “That’s just the way it is.” Just as in my childhood, I’ve never been satisfied with this response.
It’s funny how we as people can live our lives following traditional paths. As children, most of us were taught to pursue education and eventually a career. Being the well-behaved children we were, we pushed hard through high school and college to land the treasured JOB. Well, I can’t speak for everyone but that’s what I did, largely without questioning. There are many people that took non-traditional routes to achieve their dreams. Some of them succeeded, but many more are as lost as they were the day they began their life pursuit. Those who ventured down the road less trodden were deemed risk-takers by the masses.
Now that it’s my turn to be a parent, I intend to teach my son to be very inquisitive, and question everything. As annoying as it may be for me, I want him to realize that the path others have defined for him doesn’t have the be the path he chooses to follow. Instead of blindly focusing on goals others set for you, the better approach would be to ask why and then focus on determining the path you should follow. Adhering to my parent’s advice led me down that path where I could achieve success. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been successful by going against the grain and blazing my own trail.
One day, while pondering my life experiences, the proverbial light bulb when off. I realized that my various experiences were merely pieces of a puzzle. When I was a child, I took great pride in my ability to solve complex puzzles. I would dump all of the pieces on the table and attempt to create piles full of related pieces. Even with the puzzle pieces scattered across the table, I was still able to visually link them together. Applying my puzzle-solving logic to life allowed me to realize that my various experiences represented scattered puzzle pieces that fit somewhere in the bigger picture of my life’s journey.
We are often bewildered by the various events that take place during our life. Some events are joyous occasions, while others remind us of the worst aspects of life. Regardless, the experience we gain from dealing with various events can be simply viewed as another puzzle piece added to the picture of our life. Now that I am in my thirties, I’ve come to understand how certain experiences in my past fit into the overall puzzle. Some of these experiences are cumulative to a degree, and serve to prepare us for something greater that we may not yet understand.
With this perspective in mind, as we go about our daily lives, we must seek to understand how each of our experiences fit into the collective picture of our lives. While that picture may never be fully complete, focusing on the linkages between the various experiences can aid in achieving a level of clarity. I truly believe that we all have a destiny to fulfill, and that the experiences we gain through life are intended to bring us closer to understanding our purpose. If we fail to fit the pieces of our life together, we may miss out on seeing the big picture. So, the next time you experience something amazing, or heartbreaking, take a moment to think about how that experience fits into the bigger picture. Try your best to understand what you are supposed to gain from that experience, and how it can be applied as you move forward in life. It is then that we can truly understand not only who we are, but what we are destined to become.
Jay-Z once said, “This can’t be life, there’s gotta be more…” I feel like that often, and at times, the thing we call life can seem overrated. We go through life and at the end of the day, we’ve rarely fully utilized our potential and talents to make the world a better place than it was when we arrived. Some may say, “who cares?” But if you share my ideology on life, then you also believe we were placed here for a purpose. No one knows exactly what our purpose is, but our creator spent his life spreading love, and helping those that needed help. He fed the hungry and healed the sick, amongst many other things. If we are to live in His image, then we must spend our lives doing the same…spreading love.
Time or money, which would you rather have an abundance of? Would you prefer to have an infinite amount of time, or an unlimited amount of money? Of course money can provide you with things you may not be able to purchase with time. However, time affords you longevity and the ability to have time to do the things necessary to earn money. Sometimes I wonder why we choose money over time, or vice versa. I do believe that we all want to be comfortable and also enjoy life’s various pleasures. To a degree, having money provides us with the comfort that we all desire. But just imagine what you could do with an infinite amount of time. I think that the lives we lead are a constant struggle between valuing time or money. While some days we prefer to have more time, other days we prefer to have more money.
Many of us that lack an abundance of money spend our time in pursuit of it, or lament over the fact that we don’t have enough. Those of us with an abundance of money spend time trying to accumulate more, while also enjoying the comforts afforded to those with money. A small minority of people are content with their financial status, and focus on using money to buy more time. For instance, money can allow you to get back the time you spend on various tasks by employing someone else to do it. For this reason, some may say that having more money can lead to more problems.
Regardless of the category you fall into, your value system dictates your views on the importance of money and time. In addition to values, your personal circumstances exert great influence on your perceptions of time and money. Having responsibilities (i.e. family or financial obligations) only serves to heighten the intensity of the battle between the importance of money or time. The individual with no responsibilities is free to choose what’s best in terms of pursuing more time or pursuing more money. On the other hand, the individual with many responsibilities has a tougher decision to make. For example, should the focus be placed on time, which can be used to spend with family? What about the spending time to make money as a means of supporting family? This dichotomy is one that we will always be faced with.
In my opinion, taking the idealist perspective is not very beneficial. Instead, we each must assess our current reality and decide where the emphasis should be placed. At the end of the day, we will face the inevitable. Our time will eventually expire, and the money we have accumulated will not depart with us. Personally, I have reached a point where a balance has been achieved in terms of utilizing time wisely, while also managing to earn money to support my family. If you’re still struggling with this issue, keep this thought in mind. Money can be created, but time can only be gained or lost. Our time clock starts ticking from the day of our birth. We have no way of knowing when our time will be up, but it will, and probably sooner than you think.