Sometimes We Get Lost

Posted on September 18, 2011


Augustine said that the unexamined life, is not worth living; and while I acknowledge the general truth of this, I can’t help but wonder, what he truly meant by it.  As human beings we tend to be polarized to extremes and rarely does the pendulum hang in the middle.  We are either one thing or the other, but rarely balanced between the two.  Such is it with life and introspection.

There are times in my life when I can become almost paralyzed by a continual self-examination and the attempt to break down my own thoughts, actions and the motivations behind them.  Other times, it can feel like days, months and even years go by with barely even a rudimentary acknowledgement of their passing or personal reflection back upon them.  Why at times I am one way and other times I am another, I don’t fully understand, but what I do know is that in this tumultuous life, it is easy to get lost.  The worst kind of ‘being lost’ being when we do not even realize how lost we are, because in our own minds, we have deceived ourselves into believing we have it all together.

Why do we do this?  It isn’t hard to figure out, as human motivations have not changed much over time.  The driving force behind much of what we do, is self-preservation; we almost always choose for emotional safety.  This means that we are guarded against exposing too much of ourselves to the world around us, for fear that it will only be used against us.  There is truth in that, as many misguided individuals have become so lost in this world that they have deceived themselves into believing that the only way that they can get ahead is by hurting others.  While it is easy to hate these individuals; when you consider their lives and how they arrived at this point and how they can be so self-deceived; they really are beings which should invoke in us our most profound sense of pity and perhaps a bit of shame for whatever part we may have had in helping them to this lowly state.

So if we are motivated by self-preservation, then an acknowledgement of being lost, would make us incredibly vulnerable.  This vulnerability in feeling lost therefore runs counter to our natural desire for self-preservation; so we often fool ourselves and others by developing strong opinions about things.  Why?  Because we have been led to believe that people with strong opinions have it altogether.  They are in touch with themselves and life and must therefore be right.  You can’t be lost if you are right, right?  Or can we?

This is just another one of those paradoxes of life.  It is slowly dawning upon me, even as I write this blog that the opposite might be closer to the truth.  There may be a correlation between our opinionated-ness and the degree to which we are actually lost.  Now, the irony does not escape me that I am expressing this ‘strong opinion’ in a blog.  I will leave it to the readers descretion to deduce what that may or may not say about me!

As I consider the correlation between being opinionated and degree of lostness, it helps illuminate the root causes behind much of the baffling behavior which I and others frequently exhibit.  This awareness helps me to respond more in empathy and less in frustrated anger towards the people in my life who can come across pompous and self-righteous.  That is a good thing, because the danger in calling out offenses, is that we can become another offender.  Good motivations does not excuse poor actions.