Letters to Jesus (Ego, False-self, and Groundhog Day -8
Recently, at the hunger center, an acquaintance named Charlie asked me, “What do you want out of life?” Charlie is very jovial and a great kidder, but I think he was asking this question seriously. It took me completely off guard and I blurted out, “happiness, of course.” But as soon as I said it I knew inside that there was something wrong with this answer and I continued to think about it. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, instead of thinking about my answer, I started thinking about Charlie’s question. It’s the question a lot of people ask themselves, but it’s the wrong question. Therefore whatever answers it is not the right answer.
The way the question is asked is typical of our times: “What do you want out of life?” It’s looking a gift horse in the mouth. It’s grabbing a present from someone, shaking it, and saying, “OK, I know what it is – what else?” The question really should be, “What do you put into life?”But we tend to look at life as something out of which we should get something rather than taking it and using it as the gift we have received.
We’re often concerned with whether a person really uses a gift we’ve given which we thought was really a good gift. Sometimes, without ever really saying anything, we look to see if the recipient is using our gift. It is the use of the gift that shows us that it is appreciated.
Just so, it’s not what we get out of life that’s important. It’s what we put into it – how we use it – that shows our appreciation. The question, as posed, seemed rooted in the difference between love and selfishness – between what we can get and what we can give.
Maybe Charlie already knew that it’s not what you get out of life that counts, but what you put in it. Maybe Charlie’s question was Yours.