Saturday, June 30, 2007

Was John Lennon right?

There is a quotation attributed to John Lennon that I've heard frequently lately; it was a prominent part of the the excellent movie (if you're a teacher) Mr. Holland's Opus. The quote: "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." Is this true, or just a catchy phrase that like most catchy phrases from famous people gets treated as true?

In favor of the quote's truth, I offer that the best things in life, well, are not things, first of all, and second, are often unexpected. Believing that plans are the focus of life is putting too much faith in our ability to control all factors, and I have strong views on that: I don't control very much of my life and never can, despite my Franky planner and faithful exercise and healthy living and trying to budget money and everything else. I don't control who my parents were, where or when I was born or raised, my race or gender, and a thousand other things that influence me every day.

However, the quote seems to place the importance of plans so far on the back burner that they make no difference, and it also seems to imply that we never notice what's going on around us, the real "life." Perhaps that's true, perhaps that's the problem. If there is one thing I know matters, it is intentionality, purposefulness; it's the one thing that matters if we don't have it more than if we do, if that makes sense. I can miss a lot more of life by not being intentional than I can accomplish by being intentional. I don't want my life to be about looking back over 40 years of a career or relationship and saying "Life happened, but I didn't know it at the time." I want to recognize life happening everyday by being intentional and fully conscious.

What robs us of being intentional and fully conscious of the life that is happening around us? Blogs, for one, i.e., reading a lot of other people's blogs whom I don't know and never will. Youtube. Not taking the opportunity to serve another human being face to face, hand to hand, when it's there in front of me. Watching TV and for me, reading some things.

Being purposeful mean the absence of fun for some of us, but we can be intentional in our fun; we can have fun for the sake of having fun and its benefits. We can work without intentionality, too, so it's not about working 80 hours a week, either. There's a reason life and work and church is so boring; we don't see a purpose to it.

Finding the purpose, now that's another matter for another blog entry. It suffices to say life doesn't have to be something diametrically opposed to the plans of our life, but a complement we can enjoy and acknowledge.

Netflix

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