When it comes to life, I am someone who pays very close attention to everything around me, whether it be the places I’m in, the people I’m around, the music I listen to, the movies I watch, etc. I pay attention for many reasons, but I think the main reason is that I’m truly trying to understand the world around me. Subconsciously I know I will never understand things completely, but I feel like there is a rhyme and reason as to why things happen, how they happen and why certain things are done. I feel like there are messages, hidden or not, just waiting to be understood.
I pride myself in the way I watch movies because aside from the entertainment value they offer me, I like finding the messages within. These messages allow me to see things in a different light and apply those things to what I go through daily. I have seen the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” several times, and while the comedy does bring laughs, its inner meaning is beautifully haunting. Amongst the scenes of the main character (Ferris Bueller) and his friends living it up as they play hooky from school, Bueller unleashes possibly one of the deepest lines in movie history: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Breaking that line down to its simplest form, I suppose the fictional high school senior, played by a young Matthew Broderick, was telling the audience to break free from the routine and live life. Time passes faster than we realize and the routine we are stuck in can engulf us to a point where we have no sense of identity anymore. We wake up every day, do the exact same things, go to bed, and do it all over again. Is this what life is really all about?
I wonder about this notion daily because at the tender age of 25, which isn’t old, but in the same breath, isn’t that young either, I feel like I am falling victim to routine. I find myself on auto-pilot during the week, waiting for Friday to get here and wondering where all my time went when Sunday night rolls around. I find myself wondering if I was really meant for more than this or if this just the way life is supposed to be for me? A familiar line from a Switchfoot song says the following: “This is your life. Are you who you want to be?” My answer to this question is “no”. Absolutely not. I feel like I was meant for more. I feel like I want to do more with my life. I feel like the only way for me ignite the burning fire inside me, the fire of passion and purpose, is to break away from this routine I’m in. My routine is leading me toward a life of isolation. My routine is killing my spirit. My routine is causing me to doubt the One who leads my life and question the path He has for me. My routine is no good for me and I need to make it stop. I owe it to my present and future self.
If I were a betting man, I would say that I’m not the only person walking around on this planet who feels this way, who feels like their routine is destroying who they are and who they want to be a little bit each day. We all have dreams, whether they are big or small, and this routine is not allowing us to pursue them. We are not buying houses and creating homes to call our own. We are not leaving ourselves open to finding someone to spend our lives with. We are not starting families. We are not leaving that job we hate to do something we are passionate about. We are not traveling enough. We are not spending enough time with our loved ones. We are not doing life, and this is a main source of the emptiness we feel. And yes, that is what the feeling you are experiencing is. It’s emptiness, pure, demoralizing emptiness, and the only person who can change this is you.
Sure, it’s easy to identify this feeling, especially for me because I have felt this sense of emptiness for portions of my entire life. It has always sort of been there for me, but has really been like a storm cloud hanging over my head since I graduated college in the spring of 2013. The difficult part is figuring out how to make it stop. I’ve tried exploring different careers. I’ve tried dating around a little. I’ve had more than my fair share of brainstorming sessions to figure out business ideas I could run with, trips I could take, and impacts I could make. I’ve continued to read books, go to church, and seek God as I try to find my center, bring more meaning in my life, and escape this routine I’m stuck in. I’ve had some success with everything and learned some valuable lessons along the way, but as I sit here in my parents basement wrapped up in a blanket, watching Sunday Night Football, listening to Lupe Fiasco’s latest album “Tetsuo & Youth”, and writing this, I know there is one thing I can still do that I haven’t tried yet. I need to take a risk, then another, and another after that. I need to take risks until I physically can’t anymore, because that is the only way I have a shot of getting out of this rut. I have to consciously put myself in situations where I can be around positive, like-minded individuals who I can turn to when times get tough. I need to pick an idea, run with it, and discover several new passions as a result.
The main message here is this: we need to get out there and get some experiences. The only way to do this is to deviate from our routine and live. Sure, we have our responsibilities to take care of. We need to work and pay our bills. We have to work on our relationships and take care of those who we love. All of these things are going to tire us out, and no offense, but the last thing I want to do after working all day and doing what I have to do to survive is get out there and “do something”. It’s much easier for us to stay in, sleep, or do what we always do. It’s easy for us to stay in our routine because it’s comfortable. Well, I have some news for you and for myself; being comfortable never got anybody anywhere. I’m never going to be the work-passionate, difference-making, family man I want to be until I listen to the One who leads my life and get uncomfortable, and you won’t be where you want to be either until you do the exact same thing. Let’s make what remains of 2015 and the entirety of 2016 into our launching pad for everything that’s uncomfortable, everything that scares us. Let’s break our routine and explore our happiness. Let’s start living.