I’ve been sick at home the past few days, so I’ve had time to write, and I was thinking, there are so many “talks” nowadays. Go to church every Sunday, and there’s a sermon after the reading of the Gospel. Then add to that youth meeting, Sunday school, and the servants meeting. If I go on a retreat, it mostly revolves around lectures. If I go to the Abbey, I need to hear the monks give a talk. If I go to a revival (nahda), there needs to be a talk. Let alone the thousands of podcasts and TED talks out there. I can literally go on any platform and listen to anyone say something about anything at any time. Why though? It’s almost a weird obsession, but what is it an obsession with?
In my opinion, it’s an obsession with being profound. There are plenty of times where I’ll be listening to a sermon and think to myself, “oh, man, I need to share this with everyone and their mother?” Why is that? Because there’s something about that sermon I found profound, something said and put in a “groundbreaking” way. The issue is, am I ever satisfied? I go from sermon to sermon, expecting, and searching for something that will rattle me, something that will catapult me into a new way of living. I could listen to two sermons, about the same topic, by two different people, but like one over the other only because they put in a more “trendy” way. That isn’t only the case with sermons, though. Just take a look at the conversations with friends. How many times have I engaged in “deep conversations” that I suppose are profoundly philosophical and ended up changing something in myself or my life? I’m not really engaging in dialogue to improve something, but only because it’s the “hot topic.” It goes a little deeper than some sermons and conversations, as well.
The obsession with continually searching for what is “profound” has resulted from being bombarded with the idea I need to extraordinary or “the next greatest thing.” It’s all over the internet, social media, and the media itself. It’s the core of pop culture today. The very concept of social media itself is the idea of “being extraordinary.” What gets the most likes, retweets, shares? Things that come off as profound; the guy who posts a picture walking with a lion, the girl who posts this new trendy dress, or someone posts this life-altering discovery. There is constant exposure to the extraordinary parts of the human experience. There’s an encouragement to be exceptional all over and that if I’m not doing something incredible with my life, I’m somehow wasting it. Although the things I see on social media might be cool and engaging, it doesn’t necessarily mean these are the best things to measure my life by.
The unfortunate truth is I can waste so much time and effort, searching for something extraordinary. Thinking it will add value and meaning, whether that be in a sermon or an Instagram post. The fact of the matter is I don’t need something profound to find value and purpose in my life. Realistically, life will probably be just as ordinary and mundane as the person sitting next to me on a flight to Connecticut, and that’s okay. This idea doesn’t mean that I don’t grow and become a better person or indifferent. It doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t strive to be a better person or better myself. Instead, it paints a more realistic picture and allows me to be satisfied and content. When I shift my expectation and realize that the essential things in life are actually ordinary, I’ll be able to focus on those things and feel more fulfilled.
“if I’m not doing something incredible with my life, I’m somehow wasting it.” WOW right on point this created a huge turning point in my life! If only I understood “I don’t need something profound to find value and purpose in my life,” early on; I would have been in search for my purpose to ground me. I loved the sentence you concluded with, “When I shift my expectation and realize that the essential things in life are actually ordinary, I’ll be able to focus on those things and feel more fulfilled.” Beautifully said Tony! don’t share it hahahaha