The theme of 'character development' has been emerging more and more in my life lately, in the material I choose to read, the people I choose to be around, the ways I choose to spend my time, and, maybe most importantly, in my inner life, in my thoughts and my heart.
Especially as I continue on a spiritual journey at this time in my life, I've been making it a point to attend church every weekend, and this weekend I was excited to listen to a very important message about the power of setting a personal schedule. As soon as the pastor started speaking, I got excited, because it resonated with something I've been learning over the past year and a half:
That life is more fulfilling, meaningful, and authentic when we think of what we put on our personal schedule as a means of getting us closer to the person we want to become, not just as a means of keeping a mandatory, automatic, often stress-inducing to-do list.
This theme is something I remember journaling a lot about when I returned from Peru. I started to realize something at that point in my life that has ultimately changed it: that if all my weekly planner ever says is work from 9-5 Monday through Friday, and occasionally get in whatever else fits (working out, cooking fresh meals, time to work on art, time to promote and share art), then my entire life is going to pass by and all it'll ever amount to is me occasionally being who I am, while the rest of the time- even though I'd say it wasn't what I was doing- I was ultimately conforming to societal (and stale, past-based, personal) expectations of what life should look like.
And there is nothing more emotionally halting, development stunting, and spiritually deadening than that.
When I look at my calendar these days, I have things on there that were never of any importance to me before: 'bring art to this shop to sell,' or 'use this day off to maintain my etsy shop,' or (even more unconventional), 'use this day off to paint.' To simply engage in something that makes you remember why it's good to be alive.
We tend not to do this kind of living if we're overly concerned with what others will think, and if we're overly concerned with being 'right' about anything or secure in some knowledge that we're 'doing the right thing' with our lives. It's an important part of the spiritual journey to walk it, not talk it.
"Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become." -John O'Donohue
So the simple things in life start making the most applicable sense. You could think of it like everyday you are on some journey to somewhere, to some place. Very simply, life is happening. Where are you going? Do you know why? Do you have not just your mind but your soul to take you there? You are either journeying daily only to work, only to more money, only to a retirement fund, only to security- or you are journeying daily to yourself too.
And when you journey to yourself, you go securely. Your character simply can't develop unless you are concerned with your development, and that usually means being less concerned with the things you were concerned about before you start thinking this way. It changes things to make your life a story about character development versus a to-do list that you're not terribly excited about doing. And it can start as simply as looking at a calendar page and realizing something both simple and profound: today is the day.