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May 30th, 2009 | categorizilation: all categories,Arrival Home,New Zealand,Post-2008

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Ever since I read this quote by Dean Karnazes, I think I have been afraid…
“It is so easy to live a life that has been scripted for you by others, to fall into the mire of conformity by following a path that society has laid before you, rather than heeding your own unique calling. Comfort, complacency, routine, the path of least resistance, the easy road – these things are the bane of humankind. It is a disquieting moment when you awaken to realise the trappings of conventiality have created a life for you that is entirely different from the one you wish to live.” – Dean Karnazes

This quote will mean different things to different people. To me, I read it as meaning that a life not spent charging overseas and discovering the world and having big adventures was a life not worth living. It meant not being content. It meant not being happy with one’s lot.

But is this helpful? Is this real life?
My personal reading of this quote made me afraid of ‘normal’ life. It made me afraid of letting my guard down and being content. I look at people who are (or seem to be) content with what they’ve got and where they are, and I am envious of their seemlingly intrinsic satisfaction with life.

You see, I think there is something flawed in my reading of that quote by Karnazes, or rather, my interpretation of it. I read it as extoling the virtues of an autonomous life free from outside influences, driven only by one’s individual goal of self-sufficiency and if-its-going-to-be-its-up-to-me attitude.

I repeat, I realise that this quote will mean different things to different people. But for me, this quote reads as a dangerous idolisation of a self-driven individualistic mindset that is focussed on what is best for my life, rather than what contribution I can make to others’ lives.

Funny, isn’t it, that we can read into things what we want them to mean. Karnazes is a dedicated man who has used his fame for awesome things in environmental concern, physical wellbeing. He has raised over US$1.2 million for charitable causes. His is not an individualistic endeavour. It is a vision that draws others into the fullness of life.

When, oh when, will I feel content again?

“Focus on others and things outside of yourself, rather than be caught in a downward spiral of inward self-pity” – a good piece of advice I received recently from a treasured friend.

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    Permanent Link     Comments (2)

Comment by Steve Ruelle — May 31, 2009 @ 7:31 am | post a comment

I've been thinking a lot about contentment these days as well. Perhaps the best quote I can find is this one from Philippians 4:11:

"I am not saying this because I am in any need, for I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in."

The full context of this verse would take a lot of effort for me to dig up, but I'll at least mention that the verse should be read in context of what Paul is saying to the church in Philipi;-)

The last two years in China have hit me a whole gamut of experiences with discontented people, including myself at recent jobs, that I am really wondering what has happened.

In the verse mentioned, several cross-references show that God's grace bring contentment (2 Cor 9:8). Conversely, the love of money (Hebrews 13:5) or lack of faith in God always being with us brings discontent

Whether alone or with others, I think a key to being content is to be happy with what you have, and not longing for more, where "more" could be any number of things: more money, more experiences, more friends, more relationships, more travel, etc.

Comment by Jean — May 31, 2009 @ 7:19 pm | post a comment

Contentment, like love, is very much a choice. Made me remember this story…

I don't think there is any harm in leading an "ordinary" life, if it is your choice, rather than something you just drift into unthinkingly, or are forced into unwillingly. Or even if the circumstances are rotten you can still, like Paul, choose to be content.

Just a thought,


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