After the marathon that was finalizing my vision at the end of September, I took a breather to allow myself to reenergize and refocus. As October flew by, I continued to pick away at exactly what I wanted to get out of the next steps of the visioning process. To construct seven all-embracing questions that would represent my present and future yearnings, I needed the first question to be just as meaningful as the seventh. What questions would represent the true nature of the holistic lifestyle I want to live?
I decided to begin this construction by viewing a long list of verbs and simply placing them before “love.”
Allow Love…Feel Love…Inject Love…Marvel Love…Risk Love…Understand Love…Write Love…
By going through this exercise, I quickly found themes that held significant meaning for the life I want to live, and the thoughts started pouring in.
How Will I Articulate, Communicate, and Write Love?
As a writer, I have the freedom to express my thoughts and opinions at a much deeper and more convincing level than most. This isn’t to brag or to say what I write is important—my audience (or lack thereof) will always be the judge of that. Rather, it’s to recognize a skill I believe I possess, and the significant power it can carry.
The ability to command a room, even if it’s just a party of one, is not something that should be taken lightly. Just as an auto mechanic or medical doctor has a far greater wherewithal than his layman customer or patient and can use it to their advantage to break an ethical code and make more money, a writer can create eloquent commentary that can deceive his or her most ardent readers.
Adding to this reality, it seems the more reproachful a message is, the easier it is to find an audience—let the world of politics provide all the evidence you need. For whatever reason, there seems to be more motivation—via emotions of anger—for folks to follow messages that pit two sides against one another than any other style of writing.
This happens at the nascent level between dog and cat lovers and ripens all the way to more deeply rooted conflicts like that between Israelis and Palistenians. Of course, any conflict is painted with a broad brush and fails to describe the whole, but the stories of togetherness between “enemies” rarely increases the click rate, so why write about it?
If my goal was to gather a group of readers looking for their opinions and beliefs to be reconfirmed, I would provide depthless commentary that only passes for mindless entertainment. There’s plenty of that elsewhere on the internet, so I’d rather not add to the saturation. More importantly, I value my time—and yours—much more than spending it collecting information that fails to provide a healthy dose of self-assessment and personal growth.
So, in that spirit, I guess I can say I’m angry at the anger many followings rely upon and I will put all of my energy in spreading a message of love and community in my musings. To truly live and breathe the “Let Life In” mantra, it is my goal to communicate love in all forms.
How Will I Question, Investigate, and Explore Love?
As we age, we have a uniquely freeing choice. We can either seek out opportunities that will allow us to continuously grow as individuals or we can remain stagnant as the world grows without us. We can lead each day with an air of curiosity or we can hide away in a shelter of our unchallenged convictions.
When we choose the latter, the world quickly becomes a much more frightening place to be. When we stop feeding our innate desire to explore, learn, and discover, our inner and outer worlds become grossly disconnected.
Love, and therefore my personal vision, is no exception to this reality. If I decide the abstract idea of love is perfect in all forms, I will blindly follow an idea that is underdeveloped. I want to question, investigate, and explore love in ways I have yet to do so. In fact, I feel I have barely scratched the surface of where this philosophy could take me and although I strongly believe it will deliver a more fruitful life experience, I will not consider it to be an unquestionable truth or the “right” way to live.
I want to question love in its common association with comfort, care, and understanding. I want to investigate the vague parallel of “tough” love and vet its many translations and effective applications. I want to explore and redefine how I express love to my fiancée, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and my overall community. Overall, I just want to take the same want for learning that infiltrates the pages of Your Pen Paul and expand it to the concept of love.
How Will I Welcome, Accept, and Enjoy Love?
In the quarter-century I’ve been on this planet and the decade or so I’ve been more conscious to the larger complexities Mother Earth and her inhabitants have devised, there is an overwhelming ease to implicating ourselves and others with toxicity. We engage in toxic social behaviors, we indulge in toxic foods, we lose time in toxic online activity, we waste away in toxic work environments, and on and on.
One thing we can’t seem to convince ourselves of is to take in more love. It brings upon this foreign, healthy intoxication, which when reading it aloud sounds like a major contradiction. How can something be healthy and intoxicating? The word is so commonly associated with drugs and alcohol, we sometimes forget its neutral intent of describing a state of being where we lose control of our “normal” behaviors to a more powerful, controlling ratio of neurochemicals.
I’m more than willing to hand the reigns over to this new balance and see where it takes me—while keeping in mind the second question for my vision. In order to do so, I will need to welcome, accept, and enjoy love that is willingly given. These expressions will need to be seen as genuine and non-invasive.
For example, I’ve never been much of a hugger unless it is with someone I have a deep, long-lasting relationship with. By following this idea of acceptance, I can still freely manage the ways I choose to express love to others, but I would like to let my guard down, make myself vulnerable, and receive love from others in the form they choose to give it. In doing so, I believe it can allow for a deeper connection—letting them know I’m willing to accept and enjoy the gift they are giving.
How Will I Use Love to Stay Healthy?
It’s fascinating to reflect on the shifting priorities our species has experienced over many millennia, but one change that is of particular interest to me is how the evolution of our desire for survival has become a desire for health. Although there is some correlation between the two mindsets, the majority of us live in a day and age where we can treat our bodies horribly and manage to live for 70, 75, or 80+ years.
Evidence doesn’t exist to prove otherwise, since advanced medicine preceded processed foods, but I’d be willing to bet if the likes of Aristotle, Galileo, and Abigail Adams went around stuffing their faces with Krispy Kreme donuts and Big Macs every day, they would have had far less impact on this world as death would have come knocking on the door much earlier in their lives.
Rather, these historical figures were fueling their bodies with natural foods. You know, the stuff that comes from the ground and isn’t concocted in a lab with unpronounceable chemicals and additives. This is certainly not to say I advocate for the elimination of all the unhealthy goodness we have learned to create, but small doses will be my aim.
On the other end of the spectrum comes the simple act of moving. I want to strive toward complete body autonomy, so when I do hit the downslope of my later years, I am able to move freely, unimpeded by preventable aches and pains that commonly arise from years of sitting.
Beyond focusing on the fitness gods and goddesses of the world that showcase unmatchable abilities, I will simply use children as inspiration for movement. Kids are professionals at performing abrupt movements that would put any of us “mature” folk in the hospital. I will reawaken these abilities within myself by committing to well-structured regimens and, at times, unplanned activities.
The third and final piece toward a health philosophy founded in love is maintaining control of the chaos between my ears. Socio-emotional self-care is vital in maintaining a well-functioning body that will be ready for repair and regulation at a moment’s notice. Good fuel and active movement will show little effect if my mind is not in the right place. Through varying degrees of mindful practices, I will aim to keep myself grounded in a healthy mental state, while allowing a range of emotions to continuously flow through me.
All of these actions are founded in a love for my body and a love for life overall. Through my Fitness in Five philosophy the groundwork is laid to live this piece of my vision to the fullest. No excuses.
How Will I Use Love to Further the Betterment of my Community?
Love is not meant to be contained. It must be expressed throughout the world around me. There is no more direct way to express it openly than to perform my moral and civic duties.
With each decision I make on voting day, I will ask myself the social costs and benefits my vote will bring to the community at large. If more love is founded in a “Yes,” then my vote is decided. If more love is founded in candidate X versus candidate Y, then my vote is decided. If love is unfounded altogether, I will seek out avenues of advocacy outside of the voting booth, so better measures can be considered and placed on future ballots.
Outside of my freedom to vote, I will spread love throughout my community by offering the skills I believe will best serve those in need. My actions will produce a loving environment or else they will not be made. I will not perform actions that fail to plant love in the hearts of my community because “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
How Will I Invest in Love Throughout My Working Life?
I can proudly say I’m in a place in my working years that I never thought I’d be so quickly. Ignoring the seduction of money, money, money, I have already found more happiness and love in my heart working as a writer for a non-profit initiative than I ever came close to feeling in what was honestly one of the better private corporations I could have been employed by.
Knowing the drastic difference between working for an above average salary and one that will still do more than merely get me by, I can comfortably pursue a career path that will be founded in a love and passion for what I do. I will refuse to let this feeling go, and I will strive to further its strength by digging deeper and deeper into what I find to be most meaningful.
This love will never be maximized without the freedom to work remotely. I refuse to remain handcuffed in a space regulated by the same old 9-5 day. Just as I’m seeking autonomy in my physical ability to move, I’m seeking such freedom in my income generating work.
How Will I Build a Home that Radiates Love Inside and Outside its Physical Walls?
I wouldn’t say I fit the definition of “well-traveled,” but I have been to enough places within the United States and a few places outside to safely say the love nature radiates is unfounded anywhere mankind’s footprint has become all too permanent. The more we find ourselves packed into multistory buildings, driving around concrete jungles, the more we disconnect with our true nature.
Although I find myself in a city now, my future dwelling awaits me somewhere beyond the cityscape, somewhere beyond the tameness and control we as a society can’t help but seek. In nature’s wild diversity, I will build my home. I imagine a wild spring with water fresher than anything coming out of a tap; a plush garden cycling its natural fruits, vegetables, and herbs throughout the year; early morning birds gently welcoming me to each new day; clear views of sunrise and sunset; and, if it exists, a place without unrelenting humidity during the summer.
My home will be small, encouraging me to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, while providing loving refuge when I need it most. Completing the picture with an amazing partner and loyal dog, this part of my vision is the master key to unlocking the full forces of each question above.
There you have it. My long thought, intentional vision for my future. Will things need amending, adding, and replacing as the months and years go by? Absolutely! For the time being though, I have an incredibly clear path for my life as I move forward. The unexpectedness of the future will always remain, but the guiding questions I now carry will allow me to adapt and thrive to whatever life throws my way. Here. We. Go.