Too Much Information

Not too much information as in yuckee stuff that I don’t want to hear, but too much information as in way too much good stuff that I do want to hear, but just don’t have the capacity to take it all in. My inbox is overflowing. It doesn’t take too long to throw out the bad stuff that slipped through my spam filter, but what do I do about that intriguing story about the origins of the universe that’s a month old and I still haven’t gotten to it?

One of the great satisfactions of advanced age (I know that 73 isn’t all that advanced, but I’ve had more than one 5-6 year old refer to me as a grandpa) is the knowledge and understanding that comes with it. A lifetime of dealing with life does have its rewards. Life has been (and continues to be) a sorting process. Who am I? Who am I not? What is enjoyable and what is drudgery. What is productive, what is helpful, and so on. What is within my capacity to process and absorb. I think that my curiosity and interests are bigger than my ability to deal with them. A great deal of this maturing, I believe, is grasping what is simply a passing fancy and what is buried in our DNA. For instance, I have a friend that loves to build hot rods. I think that his creations are absolutely wonderful, and there is part of me that would like to do it too. Even though I know how to change the oil in my truck, rebuilding the engine feels like a bit much. The time and effort to learn how to do it easily outstrips the level of reward that I would receive. Even changing the oil involves time, energy, and facilities that interfere with the creative things I already know how to do and that give deep abiding joy. I don’t really want to be an auto mechanic, but an artist, that’s something that I can really get my mind around.

Focusing on our calling is paramount for accomplishment. Doing lots of other stuff is called wasting time. Time, for each of us, is a measured commodity, even if we are given a pretty healthy portion to work with. We come into this world, and we go out of this world, with only so many years in between. I don’t know that time is really wasted. If one believes in failure as the great teacher then I must be learning lots of stuff. Divergence just means dealing with other parts of life that aren’t directly related to the primary focus. Sometimes this other stuff is just in the way and won’t move until we move it. Sometimes this other stuff winds up supporting the primary focus and needs to be acknowledged and accommodated.

So what is our primary focus and how do we know when we’ve reached that place? Hard to say. It depends, as I see it, on where we are and why. Again, my understanding is that we are always in that place. It is like sitting in front of our fireplace with nothing to read. After we have built a library, it is then a simple matter of pulling a book off the shelf. But until that happens we can find ourselves going to bed early because there is nothing else to do. All of it is relative and all of it needs to happen before we can do or be what is intended for us in the beginning. Whatever state we’re in has been influenced by where we’ve been and contributes to where we are going. If we are into apples, it doesn’t matter whether we are the first one in the basket on the bottom or the last one on the top, it is all the same bushel of apples.

But it is so easy to get seduced along the way, especially when we are young and innocent. I like climbing trees for apples, even if the goal in the end is pie. Maybe I want to be a tree surgeon. Naa, I can climb a tree now and then, or better yet hark back to childhood memories, but I’ll never get my apple pie if I obsess over trees. There is a lot of satisfaction in building bookcases, but it will be a long time before I get to snuggle in front of a warm fire with a good book, if I spend my time doing carpentry.  I speak about what I know. I have a garage full of tools and lumber.

Our calling, primary focus, or whatever you want to call it is indeed essential to our greatest performances. Just remember that great is a relative term and not an absolute. Perhaps big and small might be more useful terms. The bee that pollinates my apple tree is a very small creature doing a little bit of work that is multiplied millions of times over into something that is exceedingly great, and profoundly important. Each of us fall into places of comfort and ability, situations that get very difficult and wearisome if we try to talk ourselves into something that sounds better. More money is nice, to a point, but money really doesn’t buy happiness. More comfort is nice but not when it rides on the backs of others. When we relax and deal with what we know, in the best way that we know how life becomes so much less cluttered. A walk in the woods is definitely good for the soul, but unless we are foresters, we must all return home, to our primary focus, our callings. Lots of good information is bad information if we are constantly tripping over it in pursuit of our lives. I guess that means I need to go through my online closet and dispose of all the stuff that is interfering with my calling. All this good stuff is not going to go away, it just doesn’t need to be in my way.

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