Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This may seem extreme, and there is another side to the coin; one can spend too much of his or her life examining him or herself and never get to be the person all of that examination was meant to facilitate. Having mentioned the other side of the coin, let’s flip back over and talk about self examination.
Christ taught that, before becoming concerned with the speck in another’s eye, we should take out the plank in our own, that we may see clearly to help the other remove the speck.
Rumi puts forth a similar challenge,
“Blessed is one who sees his weakness,
and blessed is one who, when he sees a flaw in
someone else, takes responsibility for it.
Because, half of any person
is wrong and weak and off the path.”
Many of us have a tendency, sometimes, to focus on the faults of others that infringe on our constant, mindless self-indulgence. We are not so quick to confront our own fears and weaknesses; if we could learn to be so rigorous in examining ourselves, I don’t doubt we’d be much more gentle and kind toward others we find stumbling as we know we have.
If we can learn that we’re all viewing each other through smudged, cracked, and discolored lenses, we can seek to remove our worn-out prescriptions, or at least to acknowledge that we may have a speck or two in our eye as well.
This isn’t what I meant to write about, beginning with Socrates’s quote. I meant to encourage you to take account of your life: what you have experienced, who you have been taught by, what you have learned, where you intend to go, who you want to be. My parents have told me, “You can’t just skate through life,” but the reality is, you can. You can live each day, developing rhythms and going through motions and never really, truly think about where you want to go. This is something that interested parties will exploit.
Just because you may not be asleep, plugged into a giant Matrix machine, doesn’t mean the current state of the world isn’t using your complacency and flow of cash to sustain itself and prevent progress.
To tie it all together, for whoever out there may be reading this, or maybe it’ll just be me, this is a journey to take together. I will examine myself, and I’ll trust you to take your own account, but we’ll walk together. You keep telling me your hopes and fears and I’ll tell you that you will succeed, and we’ll both cry the specks out of our eyes.