Waking up in Korea always seemed like I was in a strange dream. Maybe it was the fact we had three days to leave the country when getting the call to make our first trip to pick up our son, Wesley. Maybe it was that I was awakening when I normally would have been falling asleep. Or maybe it was just I was literally half way around the world from my children and home. Nevertheless, every morning, though a bit dazed and confused, Patience and I both hopped out of the bed ready to face the day. The mattress, that felt as if it was forged from black iron and cinder block, might have contributed to why we were always so ready to get our morning started so quickly, but more than that, it was the sense of adventure.
I would thumb through our Seoul Traveler’s Guide from cover to cover and draw up a plan as we would get dressed and eat some breakfast. Using the subway map, we would chart out a day’s worth of excursions in the massive city of Seoul. I was in my element; planning, researching, and executing fun stuff to experience together.
As we neared the end of our trip I started thinking about my life back at home. On a “normal” day I would be routinely going to work, church, the grocery store, or on the couch; no sense of direction or purpose really, just going through the motions. But there in Korea I was waking up with a new zeal. I was purposeful in my planning. I was diligent in my research. I was excited to execute our ideas for the new day ahead of us. So, why the sudden shift in inspiration? I realized in that moment the reason. It is easy to be inspired and live a great story when you are in a foreign country. It is simple to make the most of your hours when you’re cruising in the Bahamas or doing that one thing you love to do once a year. It is much harder to face the day with the same perspective when you are at home… in the normal… in the routine… in the ordinary.
All of these thoughts swirled in my head as I was left with one major question that all the other questions seemed hinged upon:
What stops me from living a more meaningful life?
I must confess, I have a daily battle raging within my head and heart. It is usually a battle of my will. I will be presented the choice of something meaningful to do, such as read a book with my kids, versus spending an hour or so browsing the internet. Or maybe I get a chance to go for a walk with my wife and engage in conversation, but instead we find ourselves beside each other on the couch, mindlessly watching TV in silence. We might as well be in separate rooms. I am not saying that surfing the web or watching the television are inherently bad things to do, but I am saying that they are not particularly important things to do. So why is it that the less important things in our life often win out? Why do we let the minuscule and meaningless rob us from the major and meaningful opportunities that present themselves every day?
As I have mulled this over the past week, I decided to list out several different reasons that personally stop me from living a meaningful life. The list was long, but I could trace almost everything back to six things. These are the six things that have been slowly and silently stealing the best of my daily life.
By far, this is not an exhaustive list, but I am willing to bet that most of us fall into one or more of these categories. And if you are anything like me, you want to make the most of your days. You want to love your spouse better. You want to enrich your friendships. You want to make memories with your children and family. I’d bet most of us would even say that we want to help others more. Even give more if we could. Yet our lives reflect the exact opposite. So how do we bridge the gap? How do we actively pursue a better way to live?
The truth is there is no formula. There is no quick fix or overnight success story I can point to. But what would happen if we tackled each of these six things head on?
Over the next couple of weeks I am going to personally examine and challenge myself in each of these categories. I am going to face the fears that stop me from doing the things I know I am called to do. I am going to remove some of the daily comforts that distract and pacify me from stepping into a better story.
I am going to delve into the issue of my own pride, and push myself to conquer my lazy tendencies. I am even going to stop using my circumstances as an excuse for doing nothing, and start looking for things I can do in my circumstances. My prayer is that in following through with it all, my heart will be awakened to love God and others more than it ever has before.
What does all this have to do with living an adventure with your life? Well, honestly the biggest battle lies within ourselves. It’s the person looking back at you in the mirror that is probably going to be your biggest hurdle. You can climb Mount Kilimanjaro. You could work your way to the top of Forbe’s richest people list. You could literally even go to the moon and back, but never deal with the issues inside your own soul. We must start with ourselves and work our way outward.
I would be lying if I told you I have been waking up lately with that same kind of zeal I found in Korea. But as I take steps towards a more meaningful life I am waking up within. There is an undercurrent, a stirring within me, and a sense I am on the cusp of my biggest adventure yet.