Making A Living vs. Making A Life – How Our Past Can Help Create a Conscious Future
Chris Renzo, Contributing Writer
Within the past few months I have been exploring feelings as I journey into my past in ways I never have before. I am realizing that the older I get the more humbled I become, not necessarily by an inability to grapple with life’s challenges, but by seeing that life is more complex than I could have ever imagined. The implications of history, both centuries deep and just within this lifetime has effected us all. It is becoming clear to me now that the present moment is a gift for us all to courageously transform the wounds of humanity through an awareness of how the past still affects us in a personal manor today.
Children throughout the world are often taught that ‘reality’ should, in a way, be cautiously feared. We believe that to make a living we often need to squander our dreams and conform to the “reality” as it is. For so many generations the sensitive spirit of our youth has often been met with physical and or emotional punishment upon the defiance of convention. Yet in this post-industrial age we have the privilege of unburdened “free time.” Technology has, in many places, lifted many away from the back breaking labor that the generations of the industrial past ensued. Thus now, within pockets, we are seeing a sort of idealism that bravely puts fear and conformity aside.
Today, we see a generation of youth that is peering beyond the limitations of social and conventional economic conformity. People are waking up to the irrationally of an age that demands more, more, and more [and which mainly profits the rich elite among us]. We are seeing a resurgence of “aboriginal” thinking and values. We are seeing people, in much greater numbers, looking past the systemic limitations of a fear based way of life. And yet although these changes may be seen systemically, they are coming about through personal journeys into our own unique pasts and breaking free from the fear that has been passed down to us from our parents, their parents, and so on and so on.
As I grew older and became a more independent adult I was able to see how my upbringing has heavily influenced how I experience myself. I have become more aware of how particular belief systems of my parental unit drastically influenced the way in which I have set the course of my life. For many years I often did things as I thought they would please my parents. I was afraid to choose another way. In ways, my upbringing set up a “default” mode of being. Although now more aware of myself I see there is room from transcendence and growth in the path of my career and my ability to relate to myself. Self-awareness is key, though. And only through being aware of some very deeply psychologically rooted beliefs have I been able to clear the fears that have held me down and move on.
Growing up I was more often criticized than praised. And during times of what I perceived to be as accomplishment there was always “something better” I could have done. I was often persuaded to live a life right, by those whom I feared. Directly this was my Father and my Mother, but as now I could see it could be traced all the way back to the barbaric times of our human history. Yet for the sake of a simpler understanding, it was the fear that was passed onto me, that had me believing “reality” is only one way: that we are here to secure our little piece of the pie so that we could survive. Thing is though, that little piece of the pie, for so many, not just my family, meant acquiring as much as possible with no end in sight, and it even justified embarking on careers that you felt no passion for.
This submission of self came about “naturally” for so many generations. It is wise to acknowledge that life in the past was brutal for so many. In colonial America, there were bouts of massive poverty and starvation to “warrant” the moral condoning of slavery and exploitation of poor whites, blacks, and Native Americans. Survival was an accomplishment. [*But let us not forget that the “uncivilized” natives of the new world, the Native Americans lived a communal life on the American soil with much greater ease then the first settlers of the new world – for their ethics and way of life was much more community and nature oriented.]
Although there is a certain increase in mental and emotional freedom in our modern era, there still exists the same fearful individualistic ethic that dominates how we live together. This individualistic, competitive, and possessive mentality is parented onto almost everyone in the modern world. And when we begin to look within and see how the past has conditioned us, we begin to peer into the deeper collective past and see how individualism has conditioned all of us to be afraid of life and each other. For we believe that competition is the only way to breed ingenuity and that we must fear each other for the “other” will beat you to the next promotion. Realize that this is only “true” if we believe it to be true.
It is fear that condones our way of life. It is fear that had us wipe out almost all of the aboriginal cultures of this world for the conquest of more land and resources to “profit” from. Perhaps, there was something to learn from the indigenous cultures of the world, who never “owned” anything, who shared their possessions, and who worked toward the greater good of all.
As a child growing up I was confused by what I saw. It was very hard to understand the idea of “ownership.” It became difficult to understand that “private property” meant, your land contained within fenced or invisible borders. As I became older I did not understand why people “competed” against each other for more “prestigious” positions. Yet now, upon looking into my personal past, as well as looking into our historical roots, I see something that is real and undeniable, fear. Fear is so paralyzing that it can have us looking away from the voice within that yearns to know and experience a higher version of ourselves. Is the sum not greater than its parts? Consider life if our economic and social doctrine endorsed unity as the ethic of most importance? And that individual gain could be see as vain and short sighted?
We are all searching for our “life’s” purpose. I would say that the purpose of life is to understand it from a macro perspective. Why are we here? What is the purpose of humanity? And how do we, at the individual level, exercise this purpose in our separate lives?
Firstly, I believe we would benefit by breaking free from the fear mentality that has you living a life for someone else. That someone being your parents or your society. Are you doing things in your life because “you have to” or because “you want to?” Secondly, why not release the expectations that you have to “be somebody” in order to have self worth or a life of value? Self worth is something we can feel that is independent of social status and career. Self worth at its core has to do with the love you feel for yourself and for those in the human community with whom your share that self love. And thirdly, I believe it serves us to realize that life is not about “making a living,” but rather it is about “making a life.” The answers are of course subjective, but I do feel there is something that unifies us all when we live life with empathy and make decisions out of love and care for life. I also want to make clear that I do not feel that money is a bad thing. Money is just means of transcribing value onto a service or an object.
The transformation of this society starts with the personal journey within. It starts by seeing the ways in which we were conditioned by our parents, in both the “positive” and “negative” ways and then choosing to exhibit the “traits” you choose that align with who you feel you are and who you want to become.
I am not here to tell you what and who you are. That is a part of your journey. Only you know what is best for yourself, but I have realized for myself that the more I open myself up to other ideas without defense I allow myself to observe new ideas with peaceful discernment. Thus, I open up new ways of being with greater ease.
I will end this with a saying from Wayne Dyer that I think we all could live by, “If it does not bring you peace then you do not need it.” – and I think that relates with everything from how we view ourselves, with whom we allow to influence us, and to what we do on a daily basis. The choice was always ours and forever will be. What will you do now to transform your life?
About the Author
Christopher Renzo is a life coach and writer who specializes in helping others get in touch with their source of inner power and confidence to create a more harmonious life. He has been working with clients in a professional manner since 2009 and has been helping people with his intuitive gifts ever since he was a teenager. He holds the notion that once people understand the root of their troubles from a psychological and spiritual perspective, they can break free from the conditions that bound them to a life of discontent. Born and raised in the New York Metropolitan area, Christopher now resides in Berkeley, California. Please visit his excellent blog, Keen Awareness.
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