Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Making A Difference

In the biography of Pete Townshend that I am currently reading he laments that he thought he would make a difference in the world because of two paths he had walked in life. His lament is that neither path has made much of a difference. The first path was rock and roll which he though would change the world. I think all of us who grew up in the sixties thought rock and roll would change the world. Every generation has their music but I am not sure there has ever been such a strong connection between music and a generation as there was in the late sixties. It seemed like a spiritual connection and a concert was often like a religious experience. Maybe it was just the drugs. The other path Pete walked was spirituality. He thought that by following the teachings of a spiritual master he would be transformed into a better person. He concludes that rock and roll hasn't changed the world and that trying to be spiritual hasn't really transformed him into a better person. Despite all his efforts he still battles with the same demons. He ends by saying that anything of significance to be accomplished by him hasn't happened yet. Who among us doesn't feel like this much of our lives? I have often asked myself, "What difference have I made in this world? Have I accomplished anything worthwhile"? In a world of overachievers, the average person can feel like they have made no difference at all. It is easy to feel insignificant. I would be greatly challenged to list what I consider my accomplishments in life. Apart from achievement and relevance, it is also difficult to gauge any real spiritual transformation. When I was 21 years old I was a novice in a Trappist monastery. Now I am 58 years old and I feel spiritually lost. I thought that by now there would be some significant spiritual growth but its been incremental at best. This time of my life is certainly a time where I feel I am wandering in the desert. I ask myself, "What transformation, if any, has occurred within me since I was that young boy in the monastery"? Perhaps I am a poor judge of myself but it would seem that all the years of study, reflection, and meditation have not changed much about me. At this time I feel as though I have more "issues" than ever before. Of course, my current spiritual and psychological disarray might be growth. The internal chaos I currently feel may birth a new me like the "big bang" created a new universe. I haven't changed the world and I'm not sure I have changed myself. Still, I hope that somehow my life does make a difference and that something of significance has been accomplished. Even better, I hope the best is yet to come.

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