Sunday, July 29, 2007

Where was I?

Have you ever had the feeling that you didn't live the past few months of your life? After around 7 months without even opening my photo album application (more on that later), this week I opened and started organizing the (very) few photos I took during this whole period. Looking back, it's hard to recall many outstanding events where I should have shot some pictures (except for two travels abroad). And, much worse than that, I feel that I haven't lived. It's completely blank in my memory. I lived totally attached to memories and some psychological chains from the past and expectations of a future that may not become true.

What is exactly live mean? Each person consciously or not ascribe a very unique meaning to it. Most of people never spend a second thinking about such a subject, but some of us fortunately have done it. And what I mean here is not breathing, feeding yourself or having a shelter, it's to surviving, but what do you understand by actually living your life. It's the answer that some people are proud to spread when inquired about their lives - and unfortunately usually at the end of them: "I have really lived my life". Unfortunately, to the majority of the population, this is something people regret because, at least partially, they never gave a single thought about that until the moment they have to face it. The bright side is that, at least some of them are privileged enough to have this opportunity while still alive.

To me, the meaning of living is difficult to answer in a few words and only conceptually. At least now, when I start delving into my feelings about it. I realize that taking photos is a good sign of when you are actually living and they lead me to the following thought: actual living is directly related to moments worth of a shot. Yes, that would be a good start of this personal definition of live. Some people define life generally as a handful of moments that are worth remembering. Photos, shot of the moments you are living through, are usually registering moments worth remembering some day in the future - and when your memory will probably fail. As I heard these days, photos are the "memory crutches", assisting us to remember what we've lived. I would go a little further and would say that they are a good tool to live again what you've been through from a different perspective. In summary, there is a tight relation between photos and memories.

Besides having memories worth recalling, and photos turn themselves into somewhat accountable memories, there is something quite important to me when we discussing such a concept: balance. In the past, I used to think that success, mainly professionally and financially would be something very important to me and should require my total focus and energy. After all, when we want something very badly, should we not inject all our energy into that? And be totally focused on it? Yes, I totally agreed with that and I wanted these goals badly.

After you start succeeding on one targeted area or, not even succeeding, but only catching a glimpse of what that would be, your life starts providing data with which you may start a review process. This process is composed of putting together your concepts, your initial goals and how they steered your life - and remember, you did that (and allowed that to happen). A very interesting English phrase related to that is "be careful what you wish for, you may get it". In my opinion, it's a very rich phrase that can lead us to different aspects of this subject, but let's focus now only on one of them.

Getting what you wish for is a very interesting psychological challenge because you experience how achieving a particular goal really is. And, more interesting, you can experience it in comparison to what you expected, what's been an illusion in some degree. Why an illusion? The reason is that you created an illusion on how would feel when that goal is achieved. At minimum. I could write a lot on how far our mind could far (and mine is a good at doing that). How is an achieved goal will be like is something we will never be able to know for sure, even if you are really conservative and your expectations are very close to your actual feelings when you get what you wished. The first and most common feeling after getting what you wished for is that it does not fulfill your expectations. You may start thinking that the achievement was below your expectations? Not necessarily. But it's very likely it will be different from what you expected. That is the point: it's different. Handling these scenarios properly, at least in terms of feeling good about yourself is not an easy task. Most of times achieving a targeted goal brings frustration, despair and we have to find a next goal to live on illusion of the following idealized goal. It can be an endless vicious circle.

I realized that succeeding on different life areas is important to me. I understood that, even being really good at some areas still constantly I caught myself asking myself "what the heck I am doing with my life". I was not enjoying it the way other people were enjoying. And that made me doubtful about my personal choices. Above that, were those initial choices right to me? Are these choices, is my day-to-day life bringing happiness to me? Is the process being enjoyable rather than only the final idealized goal (which is not always reachable)?

A very strong personal work on this front are has been done and will be done. I am struggling to achieve my ideal balance, enjoying the process towards it, and I am sure it's an ongoing process that must be kept alive to avoid making the same mistakes. Seeing my photo album application woke me up from a life where I was blind (at least for the past 7 months) and that was very good. Writing about this makes me feel good and starts to make a later (but still in time) life balance adjustment. Now this lesson must be crystallized in my mind with two questions about any given period of time: Where was I? Were there moments worth a shot? I must be able to answer verbosely the former and the latter must have an answer similar or better than "Yes, there were many of them" to bring me full satisfaction. Last, but not least, "many of them" must be enough, but not too many. It must follow each one's life balance directives, avoiding jeopardizing other areas that are also important. Otherwise, we get "out of the frying pan into the fire" and the unbalance comes back to our lives.
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