Growing What You Want To Harvest
The Union Path Podcast
"Growing What You Want To Harvest"
John Coleman 0:00:20
It can be really easy to lose track of the motivation, of the inspiration around precisely why we do things. When we look at what we do in our life, everything from our own actions to our thoughts and our feelings, the activities we engage in, the relationships we maintain, it can be useful to kind of take a step. Back sometimes kind of look at things from a bit of a higher view, look at things from a more holistic perspective and ask ourselves, what is this in service of? What is this leading to? This is part of that idea that in times of life, there's times of doing and there's times of not doing, of nondoing, of pause, of reflection, times of expansion in times of reflection and refinement even though when we're going through life times of stagnation, times of pause, especially when it's a forced pause, especially when it feels like we'd love to have something happen. Maybe we'd love to have several things be happening right now, but yet we get nothing. Crickets, silence. This can be maddening. This can build a conflict within us and just make us want to push harder, make us want to steamroll over this time of pause, this forced time of inaction, this forced reflection period. But anytime we apply too much force, anytime where we really start pushing, where we really start kind of building our own internal resistance to what is we can skip over some pretty necessary steps, we can miss some pretty useful opportunities to learn something, to see something. That seems to me life is this constant ebb and flow of doing and nondoing, of action and reflection. One of the areas where I think this reflection can really come in handy is thinking about this idea of growing a life that we actually want to harvest. And what I mean by that is doing things that we actually want. The end result of living a life on purpose, having our action, having our behavior, having our effort, having our energy go to things we actually want, that we actually want to see fruit, that we actually want to see ripen, that we actually want to take advantage and experience the outcome of. And of course, there's various levels to this.
John Coleman 0:03:17
We all have responsibilities, we all have duties, we all have things that we need to get done in order to live, in order to support a life, in order to support and care for the people, places, things in our life. Obviously there's more to it than just that. There's more to life than just duty and responsibility. Just like there's more to life than chasing our dreams. There's a spectrum to it, there are levels to it, and it's not one or the other. It's both. In the same way that it's dangerous, sometimes disastrous to live a life without strong desire of any kind, it's equally as dangerous or damaging to live a life where strong desires are the only thing paid attention to are the only things that are fed, are the only things that are honored. So we all exist in areas that often present themselves as a spectrum. No person is any one thing. We all contain multitudes, we all contain combinations of different facets and different qualities. But it is important to hone in on none of the specific from time to time. Especially when we perceive a balance. Especially when we perceive that something is out of balance. Maybe we feel our life is out of balance. Maybe we feel out of balance internally or maybe we feel there just isn't the congruence between who we are on the inside and who we are on the outside between who we feel ourselves to really be and the life we find ourselves really living.
John Coleman 0:05:09
And one of the areas where this imbalance, this incongruence can really get uncomfortable is in this idea of doing things that we don't actually want. Because it's one thing to be doing something we don't want to do and to find a way to get it done anyway. We all have to do that. We all have duties and obligations even down to our daily lives. We may not love scrubbing the toilet, but if it's clean toilets we want, well, it's us the need to scrub. But it's more than that. It's more than just looking at things from a task perspective. It's more than looking at things from a to do list perspective. It's really more about looking at life from the perspective of what are we really growing? And is that a harvest we actually want? Are we doing things that are actually meaningful to us? Are we doing things that allow us to connect with a fundamental energy of enthusiasm, inspiration, hope, excitement, anticipation? Because especially as adults, especially as middle aged adults, especially as responsible middle aged adults can be really easy to jettison the frivolous, to abandon things that don't seem that important. It's really easy to over prioritize on responsibilities, over over prioritize duties, to get so serious about the living of life in meeting all of the obligations in front of us that we squander and abandon a part of ourselves. We squander and abandon the part of us that wants things.
John Coleman 0:07:06
Sometimes we squander and abandon the part of us that needs things. And it's really easy to fall into the trap of living a life that's just the constant appeasement of an infinite to do list. This sisyphean routine of every day adding new items to check off and then living the day, checking prior items off again and again and again over and over and over. But if it's only duties that we're satisfying, if it's only checklist items that we're checking off it's important to ask ourselves where's the energy in all this? Do we actually feel energized and enthusiastic about our own lives? Do we actually enjoy our own lives? On a scale of drudgery to sublime enjoyment? Where do we sit? And we think of our own lives. How do our own lives feel to us? How our own lives like to actually experience and are we doing things that we actually want to experience? And again, this isn't an all or nothing thing. This isn't about frivolity. This isn't about irresponsibility. But this also isn't about getting so serious, so stern, so determined that we make our lives without flavor, without color, overly serious, overly grim, overly uninspiring.
John Coleman 0:08:48
Because in order to live a full nourishing life, there has to be a positive energy component to it. There has to be a positive emotion feeling to it. Our lives are not just purely logical, purely math problems that we're trying to solve for the maximum physical gain, for the minimum physical effort. Life is meant to be lived. A good life is meant to include joy, passion, enthusiasm, excitement, reward. I don't know if this is a familiar or relatable analogy, but in a lot of ways this kind of feels like the lesson a lot of us get as children. We need to eat our vegetables. And I was endlessly chided, endlessly chastised and sometimes made fun of because I just ate it. Vegetables, even now, they're not my favorite thing. And if I have to eat a plate of vegetables, then that's not a particularly good meal for me. But it's kind of a funny concept that there are things that we need to do to take care of ourselves, things that we need to do to take care of duty and responsibility. But we look at these things as somehow undesirable, unenjoyable. Sometimes we need to suffer through them in order to do something good, in order to get something done, which can be absolutely true. But it's really easy to take this lesson a little too far. It's really easy to construct a life that's nothing but eating vegetables.
John Coleman 0:10:42
And if that feels good to us, the that's great, then that expression doesn't really fit for that particular person because I think inherently when we see something like do your vegetables, it's kind of like do your homework. Something that we wouldn't normally choose to do necessarily, but we know it's good for us. We know that it's important because it leads to something that we're trying to get done. But in all of this vegetable eating and all of this work and effort trying to get things done, it's really important to do things that we actually want to get done that not only we want to do, but that we want to live in the result of that. Don't feel futile, that don't feel like just endless monotonous routine that we do over and over and over again because this is just what needs to be done. And again, some things are like this, but our life needs to include more. Our life needs to include some dessert, some candy, some richness, some enjoyment, some desire, some passion as an adult, as a responsible adult, it's very easy to get out of balance by giving these things away, by abandoning joy, by abandoning passion, by abandoning the idea of pursuing enjoyment as a useful pursuit, as a good pursuit. It can be so easy for us to cast off or even demonize what we actually like, what we actually want. But in doing so, we can lead ourselves down the path to a passionless life, to a joyless, humdrum existence, to a life built on routine and task completion that just gets more and more dull, more and more gray, more and more lifeless, more and more grim. And oftentimes it's ourselves leading us down this path. It's ourselves applying virtue to this way of living. It's us saying no to what we want and only saying yes to things that comport to the idea of duty and obligation. But there's a depleting quality to this way of living that if we're not being nourished and sustained by the energy of what we're doing, that energy has to come from somewhere. And I think one of the reasons why so many of us, especially at mid age, can feel just so tired and exhausted just in our bones isn't entirely about all the things we're doing which certainly can be an awful lot and can be overwhelming. But it's my belief that it's also about the things we're not doing.
John Coleman 0:13:55
The ideas for ourselves were not entertaining the parts of ourselves we're not actually listening to that in some way, on some level we found ourselves into a joyless, passionless, uninspiring existence because we ourselves have let these things go. We've stopped valuing them, we've stopped looking at them as necessary aspects of a full life, of an enriching life, of a nourishing life. We've redounded to getting things done for the sake of getting things done. That in order to have any sense of enthusiasm, any sense of excitement, in order to go through life with an energy that propels us that we don't have to manufacture and sustain ourselves. Eager anticipation needs to be present. We actually have to want it. Life isn't meant to be just an endless tolerance exercise where we're constantly taking all that we can trying to make ourselves more and more resilient to the stress and strain of life we're actually meant to enjoy, we're actually meant to appreciate, we're actually meant to have inspiration. We're actually meant to look forward, to look forward and be excited, to want to get there, to want to be there, to want to do that. And so many of us compartmentalize our joy down to such small spaces, so few opportunities. Maybe there's the one vacation we take a year or maybe there's a particular holiday that we try to cram all of our joy, all of our passion, all of our excitement, all of our eager anticipation into these short, fleeting times. And the rest of the time is lived without is lived in between. Because I think we can all feel the difference that when we have anticipation, when we have a sense of eagerness, when we have a sense of enthusiasm, when we're actually looking forward to living our life, we feel more alive. And we are more alive because more of us is actually engaged in our lives. It's not just our taskmaster, it's not just our scheduler, it's not just our administrator. It's more it's the parts of us that want to feel joy.
John Coleman 0:16:51
It's the parts of us that actually feel joy. It's parts of us that crave the energy of a desired life. It's parts of us that actually enjoy the harvest of what we want and by actually including these aspects in our life we get to live through these parts of ourselves. We get to live with these parts of ourselves and it feels good. We can feel it when we integrate the parts of us that feel good. In fact, I think you can make the argument that this feels good precisely because we are supposed to do it. We are being nurtured and incentivized towards feeling joy. This doesn't feel good as some sort of a trap. This doesn't feel good as some sort of a trick, as something that's meant to be avoided, that's dangerous. We're meant to live a life that feels good to us. We're meant to live a life that is good for us. And as simple as it may sound a lot of times our best indication of a life well lived, of a good life is living a life that actually feels good to us on the inside deep down. That isn't about all stress and strain and toil and drudgery but on the other hand also isn't about just feeding the more base superficial part of ourselves that are fed through our own vanity, our own base appetites. A good life feels good and feels good through our whole selves. Deep down we feel more alive, we feel more whole, we feel more complete because we're actually living with and through our full selves.
John Coleman 0:19:01
Again, one of the unfortunate ways we can lose this thread is we stop working for things we actually want. We stop putting effort towards things we actually want to experience. We stop intentionally growing what we want to harvest because no matter how much effort we're doing to growing things we don't actually want when that harvest comes around it will never really be satisfying because the simple truth is we don't actually want it. We have tried to convince ourselves, we may have tried to influence ourselves that no, this is what we should actually want because reasons. But the truth is we want what we want and we know it. We know what that feels like. We know the difference just like we know the difference between when only the superficial part of ourselves is being fed and nourished and when the deeper more fundamental, more real part of ourselves is being fed. And nourished, we can tell. We can sense that depth. And so we find ourselves in a place where we feel really uninspired, where we feel caught up in repetitive drudgery or toil just not really ever doing anything we actually care about. And we find ourselves not really moved or just pretty nonplussed about what we actually achieve, what the end results of all this effort is. Well, the that's a really good time to ask ourselves what do we really want? What does our passion feel like it is right now? What does it feel like our joy is right now? What do we feel is inspiring?
John Coleman 0:20:57
What do we feel would be hopeful? How can we build a little bit of hope and faith for a life that we want? And sometimes this requires a little bit of exploration. Sometimes we've lost contact with this part of ourselves. Sometimes we've gotten so caught up in our doing and our satisfying of all of our duties and responsibilities that we've forgotten what it's like to pursue joy, what it's like to engage with our own passion, what it's like to feel enthusiasm, what it's like to feel excitement. But we can always reconnect with these parts of ourselves. We can always start where we are and just start to listen, start to pay attention. And sometimes it starts with just noticing the opposite, noticing how uninspiring things are, noticing how joyless the things are. Notice how some of the things we do just have a complete lack of passion, even to the point where when they're done, it's almost like it doesn't even really matter. This can be useful to pay attention to. Sometimes the first step in finding a solution is really understanding the problem. Sometimes the first step in identifying our savior is identifying what we want to be saved from. If we want a big, delicious meal, the first step is understanding that we're hungry. The second step is understanding what we're hungry for. There's a satisfaction to joy.
John Coleman 0:22:46
There's a way that joy fits us. It's kind of like a puzzle piece. It's unique to us. And so it's important for us to understand what the shapes of our puzzle pieces are. What joy, what passion, what excitement, what enthusiasm actually fits us that we don't have to pretend, we don't have to talk ourselves into, we don't have to conjol, we don't have to manufacture fake interest. Enthusiasm. It's inherent. It's real. It exists on its own. So what are those things? And then how do we start to create space with those things in our life? How do we start to actually pursue things that we want to experience? How do we start to do things that we actually want to experience? The accomplishment that there's a sense of desire within us and a sense of desire beyond just getting it done. A sense of desire for the being, for the being of the accomplishment, for living.
John Coleman 0:23:58
The accomplishment not just something to check off or be able to say that we did something we actually want to live through, something that we actually want to live with. And for all of us, we come to points in our lives where refocus is necessary. Where we found that perhaps we're at a crossroads, or perhaps we're just at a point where we've decided what we've been doing isn't really rewarding or nurturing to us now that what we're doing requires running on way too much willpower. There's just not enough energy. There's not enough spark, there's not enough enthusiasm. There's not enough excitement. There's not enough passion in our life. So we can slowly start to find ways to turn these dials. We can slowly start to pursue these missing elements again. It doesn't mean it's all we do. It doesn't mean we cast off all of our responsibilities and just run away with the circus. No, we still live our lives. We still largely do most of the things we're doing now. But we reorient, we refocus. We choose a new magnetic north to navigate by.
John Coleman 0:25:21
We choose to include things like joy and passion in our life. We choose to grow what we actually want to harvest. We choose to craft a life we want to actually live, that we want to actually experience. And day by day, step by step, we keep moving closer, we keep moving towards, we keep moving in the direction of the life that we actually want. And we do that by growing and nurturing the life we actually want to harvest.
Mailing List Signup
Receive new episode summaries as soon as they are released, every Tuesday and Friday.