Friday, August 2, 2013

Beginning with the End in Mind

In the last post, I recounted what largely occupied my mind after spending most of Saturday with my dear friend K. That post about The Fullness of Time did not capture the full extent of our insightful and thought provoking discourse throughout the day.

As is often the practice, I saved the best for last and today, I am pleased to present part 2 of my ruminations.
In a nutshell, this post comprises thoughts on why we wake up every morning, why we even plan or get anything done at all... essentially, the very qualification of hope.

It should be noted that in this post, I'll liberally use some happenings in my own life to illustrate some of the salient points.

Destiny: Purpose or Fate?

When I resigned from formal employment back in December 2005, I was determined to never return to what I invariably refer to as a rat race where consumerism is unnecessarily glorified. I had and still hold the firm belief that there is more to life than just making money and then spending it all. True, there are different strokes for different folk, and I also appreciate that it is "to each his/her own" in most things in life. As such, what has worked for me may not necessarily work for others.

Looking back, I'm proud that I've been and continue to realize my goals first as a freelancer and now as a creative entrepreneur. All thanks to self employment.

The reason I bring this up is that when I quit my job, I knew that my destiny would be shaped by that very decision. I was however keen to do all the needful to ensure that it'd be a function of purpose, and not fate from then on. I've in the past written about destiny, purpose and fate here.

It is in setting up the goals (some lofty) that I perpetually aspire to achieve that I've find my purpose in life. When I began, I knew where I wanted to end up. I am not there yet and often times are in repair, but knowing where I'm headed makes all the difference. Sometimes, it takes a strong will, a stronger won't or simply knowing what you don't want to become.

All Things are Created Twice

At the aforementioned times, I hadn't come across Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

For example, my modest den is scheduled for some modifications, comprising enlarging my living room and adding an extra floor. Even before I start sourcing for construction materials, I have already seen the resulting structure in my mind time and again. This is well explained in the 2nd Habit: Beginning with the End in Mind together with the following points:
  • All things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint.
  • Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.
  • If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.

Hope Doesn't Disappoint

With K, we long agonized in trying to draw the line between blatantly assuming that things will definitely go a certain way in line with our desires, or blindingly hoping even when it is clear that the outcome will most likely be different.

In matters of hope, I never fail to quote the following:

Hope is the bridge that connects you to where you want to go,
Faith assures you that the bridge will hold,
Love gives you a reason to cross it.

Thing is, I see no need to hope for obvious things that are in the process of happening, inasmuch as there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.
For me, Hope and Faith often work in concert, as outlined in the Bible:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
- Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

"And hope does not disappoint us..."
- Romans 5:5 (NIV)

To echo Barack Obama's words on hope:

Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.
Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.
In my mind, beginning with the end in mind is what makes one go beyond freshman year in college, graduation with honors being the ultimate goal. It's what makes parents spend huge amounts educating their kids, with no assurance that the kids will not drop out or otherwise not work hard in school.
Beginning with the end in mind is why businesses are started, with the goal of breaking even, returning a profit and ultimately increasing the owner or shareholders' worth. It is what lets an expectant mother love her unborn child, with no way of knowing if the baby will be born at all or even once delivered, end up vexing her a la Kevin.

In sum, life offers no guarantees. There are no assurances that loving people will make them love us back. Only the knowledge that such love is not in vain no matter how it goes is what keeps the love going. By extension, nobody knows what tomorrow holds. The mere hope that the day will be much better if we do something to make it so, is all that matters. After all, of what use would life be if we all knew what is in store for us? Methinks that is the same reason immortality isn't exactly that much appealing.

Not knowing what will happen next is in my mind the best incentive to change things and thereby shape our destiny.

Finally, another photo of the amazingly beautiful place K and I visited as we discussed the above.


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