“I Want to See.”
By Blind Beggar Bart

Our Uncontrollable Lives

Dear Bart,
Don’t you think life is worth living just by the thought that you serve a purpose in this world and you just have to have the ambition to attain that purpose? Mankind has benefited a lot from ambition-driven people through their discoveries and innovations, (although I agree that others led to greed, also at the expense of mankind). At one time in my life I was also ambitious and that has helped me achieve a comfortable life. I don’t see anything wrong with that, although I do agree living comfortably seems to fall short of having a purpose to keep on living, other than perhaps knowing one’s purpose in life like raising a family. And once one has attained the satisfaction of having a family, one would probably try to attain satisfaction in one’s career. Or, maybe one could share his blessings by being involved in charitable work. If I do any of these, I will then have lived my life and the world moves on (and so what). That’s how most people think. What’s wrong with that? –Anonymous, 4/10/2010.

Dear Anonymous,
I don’t see anything wrong with all that you’ve said. But how are your plans coming along as far as achieving your purpose in life? I hope so far so good. How is your day-to-day living? I hope you are enjoying it. What if your plans are not coming along well? What if you don’t achieve your purpose? Does that mean you were chasing the wrong one? If so, then you would have wasted half of your life. What if your life right now is not the way you expected it to be? Life is not totally within our control.

Things happen beyond our control – the weather, the traffic, accidents… Your boss could make a decision that could affect your career and there’s nothing you could do about it. Your teacher could give you failing grades and you wouldn’t have enough money to re-enroll in school. A drought may result to lesser yield from your farm and to loss of your business. An earthquake may occur in your area just like the one that recently happened in Haiti. Events and people definitely affect your plans and your day-to-day living. They could either work for you or against you. What if they work against you, and worse, what if they work against you one after the other? How do you look at life then in this situation? How do you think people think in this situation? I hope people think with a positive outlook, that things would only get better. But then again we have to remember anything can happen despite our positive outlook. How do we keep a positive outlook under negative circumstances?

And still another question: what will happen to your plans? What will you do if they don’t happen? I have seen people “force” their plans. They do illegal activities to achieve their goals or just jump into their plans without thinking of the consequences or the risks. You may have heard of the Madoff scandal, and people losing their savings from investments, mortgages, etc. And then there are people who marry just to end up in divorce, or who live together just to end up hurting and miserable.

Furthermore, in your email, you kept mentioning satisfaction in achieving goals. You even mentioned a series of goals to achieve in order to attain satisfaction in various phases of your life. Do you think you will ever have a real sense of final satisfaction?

As I have mentioned in my previous column, “we certainly would not want to know [the answer to the ultimate question of why we live] only to be burdened by it, but precisely the opposite: It would surely give us a better perspective of our lives and the world around us. And having that better perspective would help us experience life more peacefully, more enjoyably, more deeply, and more fully.” Once we recognize the fact that we don’t have full control of our lives, we would also recognize the need to be equipped to face all possible situations that we might go through in life. How?

Unfortunately one human tendency of coping when things don’t go as planned is to play the blame game. And it is a tendency that is both useless and destructive, deserving a discussion on its own. The only reason I mentioned this is because, for events where we could not blame other people (like natural calamities), we would most likely blame God – too bad the atheists have no one else to blame. :-) And this reaction of blaming God seems to show our unconscious acceptance that God can make our plans happen…or not. We seem to be aware that our plans are ultimately at His mercy. And yet if we truly believe in Easter, we would also have to believe in His divine mercy. Where is this mercy then when our lives don’t go as planned, or we don’t attain our ambitions, or we don’t get the satisfaction we expect? I guess we’ll find out as we go along. Today, as we begin equipping ourselves to face life’s challenges, try reflecting on what God’s Divine Mercy really is.

Again, join me in this journey, chronicled in these series of writings. I haven’t answered yet from where the title of this column and my pen name was lifted. Let’s do that another time since I thought it would be good to introduce you first to the format of this column. As you can see, I will be attempting to answer, or at least react to, emails I receive because I believe it to be an effective way of “seeing” answers to basic questions in life. What we may already know abstractly are made concrete through the life experience of the readers who share. And so, again, feel free to email me via admin@cafepearsall.com (for now) or go to Contact Us of this site. –BBB, 04/11/2010, Divine Mercy Sunday.