“Relax into and enjoy independent endeavor.” Paul Stark
That is one of the hardest things to accomplish that he has encountered in life, so far.
Independent Endeavor! That might be self-employment, a personal project, retirement, a young person launching into adult life or forming a new family, individual travel, an unused or underutilized gift or skill or art. Many might decide to comfortably settle for it to simply delineate the transition from daily work time into home time, or from work-week into vacation-week.
For others, it is life changing – or even truly life-saving – in scope and impact.
Independent endeavor does not mean that genuine, fair commitments and obligations to others are forsaken, far from it! “Self-selected”, even if impelled by conviction or perceived needs and desires, or even by a more esoteric calling, is a milestone in a process, is often confused as having the same meaning as “independent”.
How difficult it is to identify, commit to, equip for, plan, and actually move ahead on many “endeavors”, no matter how simple, obvious, rewarding or risk-free. It is hard enough to arise and function adequately when Daylight Savings Time begins in the Spring and disrupts our routine by a single hour (By the way, that’s next weekend in the USA!)!
Resolving whether or not an undertaking as profound as realizing “independence” – however you may define it for yourself and your family or community – can ethically and responsibly be pursued is a critical analysis and undertaking in itself! Remember that the “grass is always greener over the hill” is actually a sardonic warning that it often isn’t…
Even after all of that is satisfactorily, rationally and sanely resolved, comprehending that “relaxing” is not resigning yourself to circumstances or to an “It is what it is” abandonment of duty and often honor, and “enjoyment” is not only the absence of grief or discomfort or just boredom, requires even further appraisal. Too many are willing to settle for being beaten with the proverbial 2×4 of life for fear that growing beyond that sorry state will simply bring a beating with an as-yet unseen and perhaps painfully real 4×4. It has happened to other people, you know, so strangely…
“Relax into and enjoy” is too high a price for most people to pay!
“Changing gears”, “Winding down and ramping up”, “Overcoming inertia”, personal doubts or fears and the misunderstanding or scorn of others stir up a storm cloud of dust that obscures systematic analysis and even vision of “Independent Endeavor”. I am certain that you can hear all of them in your mind right now, simply recalling how often you have heard it, and seen the glares directed at you too often in life — even when you were (are?) marching in the most sincere “yes sir!” lock-step with the team that inherited, recruited, claimed, abducted or “bought” you.
Most likely, you tell the same things to yourself…
“How ungrateful”; “How can you do this (to me)?”; “You didn’t ask me!”; “What’s in it for me?”; “How selfish!”; “How foolish!”, “What gives you the right?”, “You must play the cards you’re dealt”, “You don’t know how good you have it!”, “We’ve invested a lot in you!”, “You’ll regret it – we’ll make sure of it!”…
…soon followed by a cacophony of patronization, condescension and increasingly vicious opprobrium. Just thinking about all of that raises your carbon footprint a few tons!
Those reactions can take the “relax and enjoy” out of almost anything, even the most responsibly generated decisions, let alone the enigmatic “self-directed endeavor”, and…
I hope that you are not burdening others with them!
New Wine into Old Wineskins?
The contemporary world asks, insists, requires, demands that we meet its definitions, guidelines, standards, rules, tenets, objectives and goals. Many of those are necessary, some are even good. Virtually all of them result from someone else’s self-directed endeavor, their vision and goals for their best life. Most become traditions very rapidly, but often traditions that are not edifying and constructive, just the “accepted norm”.
Too often then, society – or an individual (you? me?) pours “new wine into old wineskins” which burst from the pressure of fermentation, destroying people and communities. Sometimes the touted “dominant paradigm”, or the derided “same old same old” truly is the best practice of the day. It is just not of your creation or is boringly unchallenging because you have not engaged in good faith or persevered through hard work and setbacks. Often, it is not really the “best practice”, not the “grind”, just the accepted or required or coveted “new thing” that society urges upon us.
Sometimes it is the demonstrably self-serving and destructive command and control system utilized by the current Emperor Without Clothes and his minions – you don’t want to lose your position in society or your livelihood, do you?
You had better “get with the program” if you know what is good for you!
Objects in the Mirror May Be Closer Than They Appear
Realizing and implementing the concept under discussion seems to require great change, but perhaps you are already engaged in “self-directed endeavor” and just do not recognize the fact! Is it a “good thing” for you, your family, your relationships, your work and community, your faith? Then, relax and enjoy!
The first independent endeavor to undertake is to stop, look and listen! Determine what you are doing now, what it means, its outcome for the short-term and long-term future, impacts of circumstance, environment, resources and time.
Discuss with your family your shared values and goals, with trusted advisors (not the one’s prone to laying “Peer Pressure” on you, as delineated above!), closely observe others who you think “have it together”. Pray about it, and be prepared to wait patiently for an answer, even an unexpected one, one that you did not predetermine to be the right one.
Patience…Now, that’s one tall order!