Just like they were in Henry David Thoreau’s day, most people today lead lives of quiet desperation. I’m not talking about the people who live in poverty-stricken countries where dead bodies of children and adults alike are regularly found in the streets. I’m talking about us spoiled Westerners. Even the homeless among us find plenty to eat in dumpsters.
The question is, why? Why do people of means not lead lives that represent who they really are? In other words, why are they not true to themselves with the choices they make in life?
Watch the video below for my take on this crucial issue.
(Please click on the video to open it in YouTube so you can share it on your social networks. But don’t subscribe – I abandoned this channel in 2020.)
To be true to yourself is to live life on your own terms. It is to spend all day, every day, engaged in tasks of your choosing. I’m talking real choice here. You choose what to do, where to do it, and when to do it. If you help somebody else, it is because you have a deep desire to do so, a desire unfettered by any kind of pressure or fear.
If you are being true to yourself, you dress according to your own taste, not the dictates of Madison Avenue. You mow your lawn only because you want the look of a trim lawn, not because the city in which you live requires it. You base your dream life on a combination of your calling, temperament, and interests. You do not base it on what mainstream culture – or any of the myriad of subcultures – has taught you what a dream life looks like.
If you’re like most people, you do not live a life that is true to yourself. Why? People give many excuses for sticking with misery and mediocrity, but these days, the real reason comes down to this: money.
In a song from the 1980’s, Cyndi Lauper sang, “Money changes everything.” It sure does! It changes what you do “for a living.” It changes what you do for leisure. It changes where you live, how you dress, and who you marry.
It changes your whole outlook on life.
Why? Fear. Most people live in constant fear of not having enough money. Not having enough money for supper that night. Not having enough money to make the car payment that month, let alone the mortgage. Not having enough money to retire by age sixty or seventy. Not having enough money to fund their children’s college education.
And so they decide that the dictates of mainstream culture must be true. They choose to believe that in order to ensure that they always have “enough” money, they must attend college to get a degree, then reconcile themselves to working a fifty-plus-hour-per-week job that they don’t like for at least thirty years. They give up their dreams, don’t pursue their interests – not even as hobbies, because they don’t have time.
Money – and the fear that comes along with all of our warped beliefs about it – does, indeed, change everything. It pushes us to live lives on other people’s terms, not our own. We walk around, masquerading as someone we’re not.
Quietly desperate. Miserable.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You have choices. You have options. Open your eyes. Look inward and discover the person God has created you to be, not the person society thinks you should be. Look outward and find those choices, uncover those options.
And begin to walk in freedom.