Posted by: Brad Stanford | February 25, 2017

Your Life Is Just For You

Your life is just for you.

You are the only one that experiences things your way. Taking photos or movies from your perspective might help communicate your perspective, but it doesn’t replicate your feelings. Telling the story might explain your feelings, but you can’t make another person feel them. Your life is designed to be experienced by you.

I used to be afraid of being forgotten. Or worse, being misrepresented after I was gone. But what I’ve come to understand is that it doesn’t matter. I get to experience this place on my way to another. It doesn’t matter if you understand how I experienced it, or if you even know that I existed. What matters is that I live my life without the burden of requiring that I communicate it to others. And especially without the impossible assignment of making sure that they think about me the way I want them to think.

The real trigger for me getting past my fear was this: I discovered I’m already misunderstood. I also became keenly aware of my inability to completely understand another person. It seemed obvious that the plot line of the story that’s being written is not how people understand each other. Instead I’m supposed to be writing my own story, and let different pieces of it impact different people in whatever way happens naturally.

This is not an excuse for selfishness. In the same way that my life is meant for me to experience, there are certain things that only I can accomplish. Not accomplishing them might injure or break people, places, or things. So the race is on to figure out who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing at each stage in my life, to maximize impact.

This is different than maximizing one’s experiences. There are certain people called to do that as a lifestyle, for sure. But it’s not all of us. Neither does that negate the desire to make each activity the best it can be. It’s how you measure “best” that makes the difference. You have to learn what’s best for you so you don’t spin your wheels trying to do what you perceive everyone else to be doing.

Legacy has some value, but it simply expands influence. There is no personal gain for legacy. Since the impact happens after you die, you can’t even feel good about your legacy because it hasn’t happened yet. But legacy is actually about what you did while you were here. Focusing on leaving an incredible impact behind is like trying to make peripheral vision the main way you look at things. That’s not how it works.

Like most of life, there is an irony about being known, understood, or remembered. You have to give them up to get anywhere close to them. Focus on what you are doing, and do it well. People are only able to think about it what their perspective allows them too.

When trying to watch clouds from the bottom of the pool, the depth of the water matters a lot. Getting rid of the distractions between you and your calling is critical to happiness. And don’t worry if you’re not sure of your calling. It will find you.

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