I saw a meme the other day that made me laugh out loud. While not knowing who did this, we can all appreciate the sentiments behind the imagery. Yes, 2020 - the year of "clear and great vision" - was a compilation of multiple messes that has left many people befuddled, frustrated, and out-right anxious with what the future may hold. Will 2021 be a repeat or improvement? Will things in 2021, as many are thinking, be even worse that the year just completed? Honestly, nobody knows; however, we do hold the power of our lives in our hands. Let's look at living life the 2021 way.
One of the books I received for Christmas was a compilation by Bentley and Toth called Exploring Wicked Problems: What They are and Why They are Important. Now, don't make any assumptions about the title as this is not a religious book. The authors expound on the difference between the two types of problems: tame (those you can solve) and wicked (those you cannot solve but only work to improve until you die or give up). This delineation is fascinating BUT the real gold of this book is chapter 21 that names "the quintessential wicked problem" - living a good life (what I term the 2021 way).
Regardless of all the mess that may be flying in the world (political turmoil, social upheaval, financial ruin, spiritual nadir, emotional pain), you can still live a good life. The immediate question that jumped into your mind is - "how?" "How can I live a good life when everything is a mess?" The answer is so simple - you just live it!! Every day, you must choose to be present in whatever circumstances surround you. You must choose to live every moment with the past wisdom that you have gleaned, while seeking to gain new knowledge that can be applied later. You must acknowledge and embrace the difficulty by understanding it is your duty to work through it. If you quit, give up, surrender, or walk away, then you have ceased to live a good life.
The authors let philosopher John Kekes speak to the idea of living a good life. He speaks of it as a personal and private function with this definition. Living the good life "is an art because it requires individuals to make a lifelong creative effort that no one else can make for them, and for which no blueprint exists. For a good life must be constructed out of one's character, circumstances, experiences, and ideals" (p 184). Yes, 2020 was a mess; but that fact has no bearing on your future. A good life is right before you, and your choice after reading this entry determines what happens next.
If you are reading this, you are a unique individual. You have unique talents and skills and passions. Grab ahold of a passion of yours and explore it to the fullest. Rather than trying to explain this in my own words, I will close with a quote from theologian Frederick Buechner's 1973 book Wishful Thinking: "To find your mission in life is to discover the intersection between your heart's deep gladness and the world's deep hunger" (p 118).
Your defining moments for the journey of a good life are just on the other side of what you do after reading this entry...