16 Apr There is no school for living, and a dearth of teachers of life (LEO BUSCAGLIA)
Except for some rather vague, broad and nebulous guidelines, none of us is ever taught how to live. We are not told the value of life nor what it means to be fully alive. We have no idea of the wonders we can take from life or of the responsibility we have to give it something in return. We are born into our world, educated to adjust to it according to the dominant and accepted mores and then pretty much left to sink or swim.
There is no school for living, and a dearth of teachers of life. If we look to formal education for answers, we are most often given knowledge without judgment and facts without meaning. If we expect answers from religion we are often persuaded to make the leap into faith, for which many of us are sorely unprepared. When we are incapable of complying, we are often made to feel incompetent and dependent. If we try to learn from life itself we find that often it seems full of unforeseen dirty tricks for which we are not ready and from which we seem to glean little. If we attempt to learn from examples, we find too few models.
It is only when we can no longer cope and fall under the pain and strain of nonfulfillment that we are forced to obtain some help or make some change. Usually this is simply a token adjustment — vague and temporary — before we are returned to “real” life, as ill prepared as before.
We are faced with the reality that if we wish to live fully and in harmony with life, we will have to become self-motivated students. We will have to be ready to risk, look inside ourselves, and proceed through trial and error. The job will be mainly ours. We will be required to be our own mentors.
Since we are all different there can be no one way. But it does help to assume a few prerequisites. For instance, we must seriously decide to start on our way and to stay on our path. We must view ourselves as products of our past but more importantly, as having a rich and unlimited future which does not necessarily depend upon what has come before. We must form an intimate alliance with hope, not the illusionary variety of hope, but the kind which gives strength and practical direction. We must regain our respect for our uniqueness of mind and power of will so that we may utilize them to aid us in examining and selecting the most sound and growth-producing alternatives among the many choices the future will offer. Then, we must dedicate ourselves to the process with sensitive and honest evaluation at each step. Armed with strength and choice we are ready to look at some ways in which we might better become the orchestrators of our lives and live each day as fully active and functioning persons.
We do not exist for ourselves (as the center of the universe), and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others. What do I mean by loving ourselves properly? I mean, first of all, desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give others.
Personhood: the art of being fully human