Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Incomplete Guide to the Rest of Your Life

I thought today about the book I read a few years ago - An Incomplete Guide to the Rest of Your Life by Stan Gaede. The book is a good book to read when you are thinking about the "second half" of your life. (If I live to be 112 then this is the beginning of the second half of my life - with the current state of my retirement accounts I will likely still be working at 112.) I read the book several years ago when I was much closer to my more likely midpoint of life. What I remember about the book is my reflections about the first half of my life. While there were plenty of joyous and memorable times, many of my plans and dreams had never come true. I was often caught completely off guard by the wonderful blessings that came my way and had nothing to do with my planning. So does this mean I should not plan but just go with the flow?

Planning really is not about getting what you expect or even hope for. It is about engagement. It is about being alive, vibrant, dreaming, hoping, and leaning into the wind. The truth is that planning and living with purpose is difficult - it challenges you to think beyond the moment and to think about others.

One of my favorite Charlie Brown moments went like this. Charlie Brown went to see his friend Lucy. She had her famous booth set up, the one that said, "Psychiatrist" on the front. Charlie pays her five cents for her expert advice. "Lucy, I need your help," he says, "I don't feel a sense of commitment to anything. I can't find my direction and purpose in life." Lucy looks at Charlie Brown and says, "Oh, don't worry, Charlie Brown. It's like being on a big cruise ship ocean liner in the middle of the sea. Some folks put their deck chairs to face the front of the ship, and some put their deck chairs to face the side of the ship, and others put their chairs to face the back of the ship. The real question, Charlie Brown, is this: Which way do you face?"

Charlie Brown has this absolutely blank and bewildered look on his face. And then he says, "You know, Lucy, I can't even get my deck chair unfolded!"

I love Charlie Brown because I know how he feels. Life can be a real challenge - even what should be simple is not. But despite the challenge, I need to make plans, to dream dreams, and to pursue goals. Life is meant to be lived fully - abundantly - with personal passion!

So I get up and wrestle with my deck chair and with God's help I get it unfolded and tackle the challenges of a new day - with hopes, dreams, and plans. I encourage you to do the same.

Just thinking, Steve

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