I’ve always wanted to write that headline, and since I couldn’t think of anything else to talk about… Now I freely admit that my only qualification for this topic is that I’ve been alive for 55 years and I’ve spent part of that time paying attention to what has been going on around me and inside my own head. So, what the hell… I mean what do people who have dedicated their lives to religion and spirituality have that we don’t, other than a lot of ideas that other people wrote down in the past?
Okay, many of those ideas may be helpful for dealing with everyday problems, but they came out other people’s heads and they were the result of those people’s experiences and I don’t think anyone, including yours truly, can come up with an appropriate philosophy on life for someone else.
You’d think that last sentence would have stopped me in my tracks… but it hasn’t. No, instead of writing a mercifully short column, I’d now like to shift gears and talk about how I think we can all try to create our very own personal religion… or philosophy, if you prefer.
I think the first key is honesty.
That doesn’t mean we have to tell the truth all the time – although I do think that is usually the wisest option since it keeps things simple– but I do think we have to strive at all times to be honest with ourselves so that if we choose to lie to others, at least we know that is what we are doing. Being totally honest with ourselves also allows us to clearly see the real problems so we can identify what we can try to change and what we need to accept.
It also gives us a fighting chance to see the things we are afraid of so we can take a shot at the second key; overcoming those fears. And a nice benefit to all this is that sometimes being honest with ourselves allows us to see that our fears are totally unfounded. Here’s an example of what I mean:
After I left university, I worked as a radio journalist for three years and then did a post-graduate journalism course at the University of Nairobi… then I stopped writing for eight years. For most of that time I thought I just didn’t like the stress of finding something to write about or I didn’t like having my work judged; then one day I took a good hard – honest – look at what scared me about writing and what I discovered both surprised and pleased me.
The truth of the matter is that to write well I have go into my own little world while I sort things out in my head and then write them down and those zoned out periods can last for days, and that process had a very bad effect on my marriage since, as my wife later told me, “I wasn’t there.”
So once I saw that getting along with my wife was more important to me than writing I simply restricted my writing times to when no one else was in the house and when everyone was asleep.
So there you have it: the meaning of life; being honest with yourself and confronting your fears. There’s probably more, but to be honest, I’m afraid that’s as far as I’ve gone.