What Did They Want Me to Do?

I’m guessing I must have been 11 or 12 years old when my Dad wrote this in my autograph book:

    Many people are watching you to see what you will do with your life. Do not disappoint these people. Do your best in whatever you do. Your best is none too good to fulfill their faith in you.

Dad died when I was 15, so I never had a chance to discuss this with him at a later stage in life. But while I’m certain his intentions were entirely loving and supportive, those four sentences rumbled around somewhere in my subconscious mind for most of my adult life.

Who were those people, anyway? What was I supposed to do to fulfill their faith in me? If my best was none too good, that must mean that I never would be good enough.

My life thus far has been a wonderful, unpredictable, fun and challenging journey, with opportunities and adventures I never would have dreamed of. But during most of it, I was very concerned about what other people might think about me or what I was doing, and during most of my professional career I felt a need to prove myself in some undefined sort of way.

Those are some pretty insidious pressures to be putting on oneself. After all, we seldom do know what others really are thinking about us, and proving yourself without any idea of what it might take to do that is a hopeless struggle.

What is sadly ironic in my own case is that, during almost all of my professional career, I was receiving and transcribing ― and then totally ignoring! ― remarkable spiritual teachings like those in Lessons from the Source that could have offered a helpful perspective on those unwinnable challenges.

How might this paragraph from the book have changed my approach to life if I had accepted and understood and internalized it ― or even remembered that I had written it?

    Enjoy this adventure in the physical world. It is a gift to enjoy—not a struggle to endure. If you can center your consciousness in the truth of your being—in your true reality/identity—you can then see your earth life for what it is. It is an enjoyable diversion, a lesson in truth, a challenge for future growth. See it as such in the context of your true identity and it will be much easier for you to reject the temptation to latch onto the illusions of the world and give them power over you.

As many of you have read or heard me say, I was afraid to tell anyone that I was doing this kind of writing. After all, what would they think? It was only after going through a dark night of the soul experience and the resulting transformation in my understanding of my own spirituality ― not to mention getting to an age where what other folks think doesn’t really matter much any more! ― that I felt comfortable owning up to it all.

And the need to prove myself is gone, as well. While I’m thrilled by the idea of the Next Top Spiritual Author competition and the number of spiritual writings that will be exposed to the world because of it, it seems to me the name is rather unfortunate. Spiritual books are not about their authors. I believe they are manifested in order to offer new interpretations of the one Truth in a way that will be meaningful to certain individuals. (And besides, I don’t consider myself to be the “author” of this one.)

It was a liberating experience to finally be able to let go of that old stuff, and I’m certain that, without my having done so, Lessons from the Source never would have been published.

So, to quote Desiderata: “No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.”

Thinking back on what my Dad wrote also has gotten me thinking again about the unknown, and potentially powerful, impact that some seemingly innocent comment we make to our children might end up having on their lives.  But that’s a topic for another time.

One Response to “What Did They Want Me to Do?”

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  • Welcome

    About Jack Armstrong

    Welcome to my blog. I’m glad you’re here, and I’m excited about being able to visit with you in this way.

    The musings about life and spirituality that I’ll be sharing with you will be from the perspective of a 71-year-old guy who spent most of his life trying to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up ― and finally got it.

    You can find out about my books, including Lessons from the Source, on the Store page here on this website, but this blog is a place for sharing thoughts and ideas.

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    Jack Armstrong

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