Saturday, October 8, 2016

An extraordinary philosopher

A relatively unknown philosopher unveils the centerpiece of human existence.

"Everything that matters is relational," our philosopher explains.

In a detailed analysis of quality-of-life issues, an organizational professional and philosopher detailed the various elements of successful living. Interestingly, when reviewed from the bottom up, there appears to be a baseline threshold above which 'more' of anything makes little difference. Above that threshold, issues like wealth and possessions, luxury and convenience add little to the quality of  life as individuals explain in their own self-evaluation.

A person who lives in poverty is greatly served by rising up to a measure of adequacy for food, shelter, access to employment, education, and healthcare.  Above that line, adding more makes little difference in self-described life-quality.

One factor, however, rises on a continuous path to the very peak of significance.  On a scale of one to ten, we might mark the mentioned baseline threshold at two or three.  That would be enough for a good life, and fancier versions of residence or transportation would make little quality difference.  The one exception, rising to a ten on the scale, is personal relationships.  "Everything that matters is relational," our philosopher explains.

Adventures in travel, success at work, financial milestones, all are of little impact unless they are shared, unless they add to the life of another.  The memorable events of our lives are most often related to folks we love and hope to serve well rather than events involving just places and things.

Real Life:  Not surprisingly, parents and astronauts have a difficult time keeping that in perspective.  For parents, one child is a difficult task.  Two is impossible.  Five is a life-consuming brain and body drain.  There are so many details, particularly in the developed world, that have to be handled; it's hard for mom and dad to get a peaceful moment.  In retrospect, though, the first remembered and best recollections are related to family and especially, the children.  For astronauts, it's probably hard to top a spacewalk.

As for parenting:  the easier version of parenting doesn't appear until the first grandchild arrives.  Then you have the comfortable leisure to enjoy the week-to-week changes in the child.  New facial expressions, developing hand-eye coordination, deepening relationship and love bonding, and fascinating interactions.  Grandfather's have time to enjoy such things while the parents do all the hard work.

My granddaughter, like her mother before her, is the centerpiece of why life is so enjoyable these days.  Happiness springs up at the thought of her company.  She's perhaps not all there is to life, but she's extraordinary.  Of course.

So in the larger view of life, each relational context can add or subtract quality.  Our impact on others, on each individual whose life we can touch, is determined by the quality of the relationship and interaction.  If we do well, they're blessed.

You can be a world changer for that one to whom you have relational access.  Or you can ruin their day/year/decade ...

Knowing this, how might we plan the investment of our lives?  We can choose to be loving, supportive, encouraging, and graciously informative, can we not?  It's practical and active, not feelings, by the way.  And, it's two-way; if we do well, we're both blessed.

The way we relate to others is actually number two on the authoritative list of important understandings.  "Do unto others as you would have them do to you."  Know what the first is?  :)

The photo at the top is my granddaughter, by the way.  We spent the day together, reading books, walking in the sunshine, and a first attempt at assisted tree-climbing.  I'll remember that day forever, but I can't remember a single thing of similar significance from that week (or month) at work.

Thanks and a hat tip to the great philosopher, Tim Frink.

Galatians 5:13Amplified Bible (AMP)

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love [a] serve and seek the best for one another.
[a]Footnote: The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for them.

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