The more days I have lived, the more I ask myself, Tara, what really matters to you, what makes you happy, and what will you do to ensure that you are fulfilled?
I don’t have all the answers yet but the brevity of life causes me to ask myself continually about what really matters to me. It is undeniable that our priorities will change as we grow older and face different circumstances. My priority as a teen, which was to have as many friends and acquaintances as I could possibly have and to be popular amongst my circle has definitely changed.
Now, what matters to me is peace. Peace within and without. Peace within- a continuous acceptance of who I am, where I am at and what I have. I no longer want to prove anything to anyone but myself. I no longer seek to be known by all and sundry nor to be a popular person. People’s perception of me remains theirs and does not affect me as much as it used to. I don’t have the need to be liked by everyone nor do I particularly notice who likes or does not like me. I don’t want to be like the other person even though I may admire what they have or are and do not intend to allow what others do or do not do, to change who I am. I just want to be myself, enjoy my life within my own definition of enjoyment and live life as much as I can within my means. I am at the place where I am willing to open myself to experiences that I would have eschewed some years back because of my misconceptions, limitations and exposure.
Peace without- living with people as peaceably as I can, learning to accept that they are different and that even though we may not share the same opinions and beliefs, they are entitled to their way of seeing life. Peace to know it’s not my duty, obligation or responsibility to change anyone but to accept them also letting them know their boundaries. It means accepting what I cannot change and learning to live with it without subjecting everyone or everything to my standards.
It means finding a way to avoid conflict as much as I possibly can even if it means at times letting go of my rights.
We all know that life is pretty ephemeral, we are here today and gone tomorrow as the Yoruba would say “it’s what the bird eats that the bird carries”and the more I get older the more I feel it is a tragedy that we do not take advantage of the moments that life brings to us with our two hands unhesitatingly .
What really matters? We intuitively know the answers to the question but most often we forget or push it to the back of our mind in the busyness of life but it’s a question we must continually ask ourselves in all areas of our lives and some of my answers to the question are
- My person. By this I mean peace in the totality of who I am in all the three parts that make up man- spirit , soul and body. I am a Pentecostal Christian and I am beginning to ask more why I am on earth and what I will be doing when I die and get to heaven. I think and it is solely my opinion that although we are on earth for God’s purpose ( which by the way varies for each of us), we are on earth for other reasons apart from evangelizing to people. We are meant to enjoy the earth and its bounties within reasonable boundaries but many of us have limited our knowledge of life to what exists within our world without participating in that of others. We are so afraid of being deceived, and there is that possibility, that we completely forbid anything that does not seem to align with our religion and the way we see life. Books and travel have made me see that what really matters is not religion, creed or tradition but human beings and if you care about humanity you will find God and that’s really all that matters.
- Work/ profession. We all are mandated to work and some will achieve great strides in the workplace creating inventions, building empires etc and that’s okay because they have the talents and skills and have exercised them profitably. Conversely, for some others, attaining recognition in their profession is not a priority. They just want to earn enough to be comfortable and enjoy their life. The truth is that work is a means to enjoying the life that we have. Although we are mandated to work, it must never take the place of life and both groups of people must understand what motivates them and others to work and not force their ideas of success on others.
- Relationships. We are living in a time when people think it is a bad idea to give their all into their relationships for fear of being used or taken advantage of. For those of us in relationships where we really like each other, we must begin to ask ourselves what really matters to us. Is our ego worth the death of the relationship ? Are we willing to overlook those annoying habits of our spouses or friends because of the greater good having them in our lives brings us? Does the lack, frequent or infrequent amounts of sex and money ( very important in any relationship but surely not the most important things) really matter in the long run? I remember that a year before Mr A’s death even though I didn’t have an incline that he was going to die soon, every time we had a fight I would often soft-pedal when I weighed the fight on the scale of- would it matter in the light of who he was, what we had going or even in a few years.
- Health. In recent times I have totally appreciated the concept of good health both physically and emotionally. We are in times when we need to protect our sanity and bodies from the stress incurred by daily living in today’s world. Our health matters a great deal.
- Comfort. Comfort is said to be a state of physical ease and freedom from pain and discomfort. It’s the reason why as we grow older, women don their natural hairstyles or styles that make them feel more at ease, clothes that do not restrict or hurt, lower heels etc. The older we grow we realize that we prefer comfort to pain and unease in all areas of life but especially physically and emotionally.
These are a few areas to ponder on but it is important to know that what matters to each of us will differ but we can’t know them, until we ask ourselves the tough questions and are honest to accept those answers without berating ourselves because they may be too serious, mundane, unconventional, unrealistic or frivolous to others.