(Not) The Purpose of the World (DOP #19 2014)

I tend to surround myself with things that are slightly ridiculous.  If you have met me in person, you may have noticed my general disregard for dressing stylishly, and my somewhat disheveled hair and beard.  My jacket has a giant hole in the front pocket and while I try not to be a total disaster all the time, I am probably only a few steps from it most days.  Some of these behaviors are the result of inexperience (I seriously don’t know how to dress very well) and others are a somewhat deliberate choice.

In the summers I wear a hat that references a popular television show for little girls, My Little Pony.  My laptop background had alternated between a My Little Pony picture and a Doge background.  When I leave it open somewhere, I almost inevitably get comments that are related to the ridiculousness of my choices.  In fact, last week someone called the Doge picture “embarrassing”.  My cell phone makes loud and embarrassing cartoon sounds when I get a text or notification.

To the moon!!!

To the moon!!!

On one level these ridiculous choices and actions draw attention to me.  I like attention more than I like to admit, but many of the things that draw attention could be considered embarrassing to someone of my age.  I know that I enjoy the attention, but I also know that I am embarrassed by some of the things that I am known for.  To some people, I am that guy who likes a little girls TV show.  To others, I am that guy who isn’t dressed particularly sharply.  I enjoy the notoriety, but I also feel a strong sense of self-consciousness related to the externally visible things that make me notorious.

I think that in some ways the feelings of embarrassment are far better for me than the emotional fuel I get from the notoriety of my own brand of uniqueness.

You see, I am very proud person, who wants to be seen as a renaissance man, capable of displaying strengths and wisdom in many diverse fields.  I have a strong desire to be looked to as someone who is effective and gets things done.  I want to be known as someone who achieves the impossible, and alters the course of history in my own way.

I want, I want, I want.

The more I learn about peace, the more I realize that what I want is oftentimes at odds with the pursuit of peace.  My desire to be seen as the best causes me to do things that stretch the boundaries of peaceful.  I will occasionally pursue my goals aggressively, focusing solely on what I want to achieve.  This single minded focus results in hurting those around me who would like my attention or my time.  I make excuses to escape people to work on my project, and then complain about the work that I have undertaken by my own ambition.  I break implied promises in the name of my next big accomplishment.  I fail to take into consideration the feelings and emotions of others, who may need me to be present for them in a difficult time.

The more I learn about peace, the more I am willing to accept a certain level of self-denigration.  When I am embarrassed of the hole in my jacket pocket, with my obnoxious little fingers dangling through it, I can take that moment to consider that I am not the purpose of the world.  I was not created to give the world something to worship.  When my phone rings at an embarrassing time, I can choose to recognize that my attempts at dignity are comical and ill-advised.  When my beard and hair draw looks of suspicion or distrust, I can remember that these people I have just met have no reason to trust me, I have not yet earned that right from them.  When someone wants me to tell the story of how I am a brony, I can laugh at myself and restore a sense of balance to my normal arrogance.

I am not the purpose of the world.

It does not exist to serve me.

When we can learn this and accept it, we will find that peace with our circumstances and our fellow man becomes more attainable.  Our fellow man may not be at peace with us, but I can accept his anger without losing the foundation of my own peace.  I can make a more rational decision when I look from my fellow man’s perspective and see why he wants to pursue his own goal so fervently.  My goal can take a back seat for a period of time when I see how important it is for someone else to have my help or attention for their goal.  I can overlook offensive speech, because I have a realistic view of myself in relation to the world.  My ridiculous wardrobe and actions can be a touchstone to remind me of my place.

As painful as it may be to say, it is even more difficult to believe in my heart these two important lessons:

I am not the purpose of the world.

It does not exist to serve me.

#25 Days of Peace (An Introduction)

4 thoughts on “(Not) The Purpose of the World (DOP #19 2014)

  1. Michael

    That was real! I’m glad I took the time to read it. I can speak (and relate this article) from my own experience that it’s so easy to get caught up in self. Even when your goal is selfless, selfishness easily creeps in and distorts. I need to remember the things you brought up here. I’m an extreme introvert, so apart from the stage, and small groups of people I’m close with, I hate attention. Part of that is simply how I’m wired, but part of it I need to learn to overcome for the sake of connecting with people in situations that feel very unnatural to me. Bottom line, “I am not the purpose of the world”. Good stuff.

    1. Joshua Post author

      Thanks for checking it out Michael, I’ve been enjoying your posts as well! I also tend to be introverted, but I also seem to desire attention at times. I haven’t quite got myself figured out yet. I appreciate the work you are still faithfully doing. Well done!

  2. Madison

    Aw Josh, I had been worried I might have hurt your feeling at some point, and I feel really terrible knowing that my comment made some kind of impression on you (forgive me, I’m probably missing the point of this post completely). I hope you know that we all have a lot of respect for you even if we might tease you about your interests sometimes.

    1. Joshua Post author

      As the picture says, “There is no need to be upset!” I was totally not offended by your comment, it just reminded me that I am a pretty odd person when I stop to think about it. It is good for me to remember that sometimes, and I harbor no resentment or ill will towards you for helping me to remember! I’m a pretty resilient guy when it comes to things like that.

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