I picked up this article on Medium by Zat Rana. In it, he shares some thoughts from David Foster Wallace on how to create a life of meaning and awareness. Rana identified 5 key thoughts: 1) Find your taste and let it nourish you. 2) Don’t be seduced by perfectionism. 3) Realise that you’re pretty normal. 4) Be careful about what you worship. 5) The most important thing.
The thought that grabbed me by the throat was be carful about what you worship. What we devote our time and energy to and deem as meaningful to our lives becomes a certain kind of worship, as Wallace points out:
There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship… If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth.
Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you…
Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.
This made me stop to consider just what it is I worship.
I know that I worship my body. I’ve always had this thing about never wanting to be overweight and out of shape and as result, I have spent ungodly amounts of time in the gym. But Wallace was right, time and age have eventually caught up with me. My body isn’t what it used to be. That’s natural. And I’m slowly coming to grips with it being okay, but my mind has trouble letting go of the image of my younger fitter self.
I worship influence and recognition. My biggest fear is dying in obscurity without ever having had an impact on the world around me apart from producing offspring. This thought consumes me day and night to point where I rarely take time out these days to simply sit and smell the roses because in my mind I haven’t done enough and time is running out.
I need to spend some more time with this thought, but just wanted to share it with you now in its raw state. If any of you fancy having a small group discussion about this, let me know, and I’ll set up Zoom chat.
I like Rana’s final words on worship:
There will be things that dictate your life, whether they be a set of ethical principles or your commitment to a cause. And some of these things will make you miserable, while others will light a lasting spark inside of you.
Either way, you get to choose, and that choice is something you’ll live with.
What you worship defines you.