To be and to feel alive we have to learn how to be resilient and steady, in a practical way, in a way unique for each one of us.
When we talk about embracing a ‘rule of life’ our attention goes to the notion of ‘rule’ when in fact we should rather focus on its other element, that is ‘life’
We want to be, and more importantly, to feel alive
We realize that all too often we live to work, or to fulfil other people’s or society’s expectations which we have deeply internalized
This applies to faith too: we believe to be more deeply alive – faith matters so much to us because we have experienced its life-giving power
Our life thrives to the extent that it is harmonious, consistent, integrated – which of course is not always possible
Crises too are part of life
So are challenges
Times of low energy, setbacks
So that to be and feel alive we have to learn how to be resilient and steady, in a practical way, in a way unique for each one of us
“Steady!” we say to ourselves when something threatens our balance
Steady is the pace we need to maintain if we want to climb a mountain:
We need regularity
We sustain our motivation with the prospect of the joy that awaits us when we reach the mountaintop
We remain focussed and vigilant about the risks of th e enterprise
We plan ahead the route we are going to take
Rule not regulations
The pace of a mountain climber is a good image of what a rule of life should be.
It avoids confusing ‘rule’ with ‘regulations’
Talking about a ‘rule’ for our life might not appeal to everyone.
In our contemporary society we are constrained by regulations and procedures which might make things safe and effective but can stifle spontaneity
Compliance to regulations can become an alibi to avoid personal and heart-felt commitment to what we do.
Thinking about the pace of a mountain climber helps us to see a rule of life more as a form of wisdom
A form of wisdom
Indeed, Christian tradition has used the expression ‘Rule of life’ to talk about the wisdom that goes into
Finding the right pace for our life
Remaining steady, aware, mindful in the midst of all the pressures, worries, distractions
Sustaining the connection between activity and delight
Learning how to feed the best of all engines for action, namely desire.
Wisdom to give pace and steadiness to our life is more necessary than ever considering the pressures of a lifestyle which has been hugely accelerated especially by social media and the expectations in our society
we have priorities and plans, but find ourselves scattered
we spend most of our energies reacting to a deluge of solicitations and constantly losing the thread of what really matters in our life
we end up being endlessly busy without knowing how to slow down
we are tired and this, in the long run, has an impact on our health.
Resolutions and rule of life
Our usual way of trying to fix this negative spiral is making resolutions, which does not work because resolutions tackle isolated aspects of our life, but do not look at it as a whole
So there is a great difference between making resolutions and adopting a rule of life
A rule of life allows us to work to change our unhealthy habits by committing to a better, more balance rhythm – a pace
A rhythm more adapted not only to our goals or duties, or needs
But also to what gives us peace and joy – makes us feel alive
Intentional and accountable
A rule of life teaches us to be intentional about our life and gives us ways to be accountable to ourselves for our well-being, both emotionally and spiritually
A rule of life teaches us to be realistic about our limitations and acknowledge our need for embracing some structureto keep our pace and remain steady in our journey.
Finally, a rule of life teaches us to pay more attention to ourselves, other peoples and God – and gives us great freedom.
This freedom is perceptively captured in the sentence attributed to the famous American supreme court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
“The young person knows the rules, but the old person knows the exceptions.”