January 29


Today's quotation:

All ages have said and repeated that one should strive to know one's self.  This is a strange demand which no one up to now has measured up to and, strictly considered, no one should.  With all their study and effort, people are directed to what is outside, to the world about them, and they are kept busy coming to know this and to master it to the extent that their purposes require. . . . How can you come to know yourself?  Never by thinking, always by doing.  Try to do your duty, and you'll know right away what you amount to. And what is your duty?  Whatever the day calls for.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Today's Meditation:

"Whatever the day calls for"--I love that line.  Sometimes I get so caught up in what I think I should be doing that I lose sight of what needs to be done right here, right now.  Yes, the paper needs to be written, but my step-daughter needs a ride to something right now.  Yes, I would love to be working on another novel, but the bathroom wall needs to be fixed.  These aren't obstacles to living--they're life, and they're what today is calling for.

Goethe makes a claim that seems to be contrary to contemporary belief--that we can't know ourselves.  I'm not sure that I agree with him on that, but I do agree that our highest calling is to the world around us, to the people with whom we share this world of ours.  We learn about life through our interactions with others, even if that interaction is reading words written by others.  While life in a monastery or convent, shut off from the rest of the world, may be right for some people, we never get to know our potential and limitations if we don't deal with other human beings, if we don't do our "duty," which is the task before us.

Sometimes, that task is rest so that we can gather our energy for the next task.  Sometimes, that task is to help someone else.  Other times, that task is to do something for ourselves.  A great task is to sit and enjoy a movie--entertainment helps us to clear our minds of many of the stress-causing elements of our lives.

My duty today is to be me, and to do the things that I know are necessary.  I don't have any other duties, and I shouldn't take on any others that don't contribute to making me the person I am.  I can't take on anyone else's responsibilities, and I can't try to be everything for everyone.  By recognizing my duties, I free myself from all that isn't my duty.

Questions to consider:

What are your duties today?

What aren't your duties today?

What are some of the ways that you can come to know yourself?

For further thought:

You must create your own world.  I am responsible for my world.

Louise Nelson

more thoughts and ideas on today



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