Discover more from Look in the Book
The Way …
Visitors to the scenic town of Tobermory, ON at the northerly tip of the Bruce Penisula were shocked one evening to see a car driven by a 23 year old Kitchener lady, go straight down the boat ramp into Little Tub harbour. She was able to swim to shore and her car was later towed from the water - that’s the good news!
When asked what had happened she replied, “I was following my GPS.”
GPS - wonderful tool for finding our “way” - sometimes!
We don’t need to find responsibility for this error, but if it had been an Autopilot vehicle we would have a different situation to consider.
Several car manufacturers produce their version of what Tesla calls Autopilot. But their record is sullied by some notorious accidents. As recently as this past month (June 2022) these statistics were shared on cnbc: Nearly 400 crashes in the US over the last ten months involved driver-assistance technology. (cf. “https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/15/data-shows-tesla-accounts-for-most-reported-driver-assist-crashes-but-officials-warn-report-lacks-context.html)”
Oh, for the good old days, when the horse knew its way home and you could just snap the reins and say “Home”, and doze off and soon find yourself outside the barn - self-driving at its best.
I am not trying to denigrate technology or Tesla in particular, but to help us realize that because something is “new technology” does not necessarily mean that it is without its share of problems. How wonderful to be able to enter our destination, push a few buttons and sit back and relax until we are notified of our arrival. Seems like the make-believe of movies!
“Navigation is the art and science of determining the position of a ship, plane or other vehicle, and guiding it to a specific destination.”
Tuan C. Nguyen in an article for ThoughtCo in June 2019 made this comment on the history of self-driving cars:
“Oddly enough, the dream of a self-driving automobile goes as far back as the middle ages, centuries prior to the invention of the car. The evidence for this comes from a sketching by Leonardo De Vinci that was meant to be a rough blueprint for a self-propelled cart. Using wound up springs for propulsion, what he had in mind at the time was fairly simplistic relative to the highly advanced navigation systems being developed today.
“It was around the early part of the 20th century that a real concerted effort to develop a driverless car that actually worked started to take shape, beginning with the Houdina Radio Control Company’s first public demonstration of a driverless car in 1925. The vehicle, a radio-controlled 1926 Chandler, was guided through traffic on a route along Broadway and Fifth Avenue with signals sent from another car following close behind. A year later, distributor Achen Motor also showcased a remote-controlled car called the “Phantom Auto” on the streets of Milwaukee.
“Though the Phantom Auto drew large crowds during its tour of various cities throughout the ’20s and ’30s, the pure spectacle of a vehicle seemingly traveling without a driver amounted to little more than a curious form of entertainment for onlookers. Furthermore, the setup didn’t make life any easier since it still required someone to control the vehicle from a distance.”
Examining the history of navigation, our ancestors were conversant with the consistent celestial courses and would use that information to guide them to their destination. Such instruments as sextants, astrolabes, or quadrants used the celestial bodies to locate where they were on the map of earth. Yes, even back hundreds of years. We might say, a crude form of our GPS.
All of this history and technology to help us find our way to a destination. Yes, and some find it doesn’t always get them to where they intended to go.
But beside the question of trying to get to a physical destination, we could ask the question about how do we achieve the guidance in life’s journey so that we arrive at a satisfying destination rather than merely visit ports along the way until life ends?
It is a popular topic whether in psychological journals, business success articles, or religious periodicals. This widespread advice means there must be some deep human longing that all are trying to address and for which to offer something that satisfies - this ‘way’ will result in living a life of fulfillment.
Many of these articles tend to distill their perspective to a number of points which will provide the GPS through life to ensure arrival at that elusive destination, that once reached, can be considered the measure of satisfied or satisfying life. The tragedy in all of these wonderful pronouncements and directional information may or may not be for us individually. And, when we get to the point of evaluating whether life has been “satisfying and purposeful” there is not much time left for alternate routes.
Rhett Power in his January 2017 on success.com gives us a list of Seven Ways to Lead a More Satisfying Life, among which we find:
Focus on the positive
Find your stress relief
Take time for yourself
Take responsibility for your actions
Be more understanding
Revaluate your relationships
Live your best life
Rhett has provided us some food for thought and some of his suggestions will resonate with some individuals while others will be skeptical of his vagueness.
Alternately, Sandip Roy–a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher and Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog gives his perspective on the same question:
Count your blessings
Practice acts of kindness
Savour the joys of life
Thank a mentor
Learn to forgive
Start a passion project
Invest time in friends and family
Develop strategies for coping
Take care of your body
Both individuals provide us with the grist for further contemplation and action.
But if we are honest, how can we truly know whether these pointers are going to work for us? Some of the suggestions come from research, granted, but many of them leave us wondering the degree to which the enactment fits my desire to gain satisfaction in living? Isn’t there something individual which applies to my life, which provides value in life, for me?
Could we honestly consider the question whether such advice and encouragement, as good as it is and as scientifically based as some may be, in the end are mere pointers towards a destination which at best is a nebulous goal?
It seems that Sandip takes the ideas of Rhett and moves them further in the direction of something more than just what I want or need and opens that door of a spiritual component involved in providing a measure of satisfaction.
Mary Beth Hazeldine does the seemingly impossible. Writing on medium.com April 4, she boils the search for a purposeful life down to a singularity — yes ONE question to answer! This seems to be getting easier, doesn’t it?
She entitles her article: What One Thing Gives Your Life Meaning and Purpose?
“Many people focus on the “what“ when trying to find fulfillment in life. They try to find things they are good at and enjoy doing and then do them as often as possible.
“While this is definitely a step in the right direction, it’s not the whole story. The missing piece of the puzzle is understanding your “why.” Why are you doing what you’re doing? Everything else will fall into place once you have a clear answer to that question.
“Simon Sinek, British-American author and inspirational speaker, says that people often know what they do, and how they do it, but sometimes not why they do it. That’s where the golden circle comes in.
“The innermost ring in the golden circle is the “why.” This is what drives us. It’s our belief system, our values, and our purpose.
“The next circle is the “how.” This is how we live out our “why.” The actions we take and the things we do align with our core values and beliefs.
“The final ring is the “what.” This is what we do every day. It’s our job, our product, or our service.
“Knowing your “why” is what sets you apart from everyone else. It’s what gives you meaning and purpose in life.
“When you know your “why,” it’s much easier to stay motivated and focused on what you’re doing. You’re not simply going through the motions anymore; you’re working towards something important to you. And that is incredibly powerful. You’re living a purposeful life.” Source: https://medium.com/illumination/what-one-thing-gives-your-life-meaning-and-purpose-113375813e06
I would suggest that Mary Beth has helped us drive towards the heart of an answer to the purposefulness of living. As she suggests, we are able to explain quite easily what we do and how we do it, but as to answering the ‘why’ question is something we are either told to do by someone else, or we just avoid contemplating further since we are too busy with ‘what’ and ‘how’! Or, are living life at such a pace that the time needed to ruminate on this question of ‘why’ finds no room at the intellectual ‘inn’.
Isn’t she helping us focus on the reason we do what we do in life? What motivates us?
Why do some find high mountains a necessary goal? Others a solo journey across vast oceans? Others scale the echelons of corporations? Others to help those destined to the streets of major cities through rough circumstances in life? Others to counsel young women on the value of the unborn?
I would posit, that each of these worthwhile ventures in life only finds satisfaction when motivated, not by the ‘why’ of personal agendas, but by a person. One who lived in Palestine some 2000 years ago, turning the world upside down due to its greedy and power hungry rulers, and in its place providing an ethic based on His personal example.
We gain a glimpse into that Person who stated that the reason for his coming was:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour, …” cf. Isaiah 61:1, 2a; Luke 4:18f.
Do you notice that four of the five “purposes” for which Jesus came involve the less advantaged in society and bringing improvement to their lives? How does this translate to the 21st century cultural context?
There is a poignant exchange with the disciples prior to the crucifixion which demonstrates, then as now, the question we have been pondering.
The intimate discourse with the eleven disciples continues into chapter 12 of John’s Gospel with the familiar verses about Jesus’ preparation of “a place for you”.
He senses the dis-ease of the disciples in the events surrounding Judas’s exit and seeks to reassure them, because greater trauma lies just ahead. His words of encouragement ring true in any age where disciples are faced with uncertainty and debilitating circumstances. As their world was about to implode, he wanted to assure them that He had their life destiny in sight and that they could count on not only his concern for them, but also that of His Father. The coming separation was only temporary.
“And you know the way to where I am going”, Jesus comments.
We know? Or, do we?
It is all so familiar that our confidence distances us from Thomas’s interrupting question,
“How can we know the way?”
Once again we see Thomas’s utter honesty, pessimism and inhibition.
Questions are the sign of an engaged mind. Think of young children who never tire of asking “why?” – and to every answer, another “why?”– tiring most adults!
So, who is right? Jesus, who says, “… you know the way …” or Thomas who questions, “How can we know the way?”
Jesus states, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life …”
Jesus does not provide Thomas with a formulaic means to understanding, but rather a confrontation with the one with whom he was speaking.
“He is the way to the Father because only he has an intimate knowledge of God, unmarred by sin. He is the truth because he has the perfect power of making life one coherent experience irrespective of its ups and downs. He is the life because he was not subject to death but made it subject to him. He died to demonstrate the power and continuity of his life.” (EBC, abridged)
Jesus declaration is the embodiment of the destiny, the purpose and the means of fulling all of life through a relationship with him.
What kind of purposefulness does Jesus provide? What is the ‘way’, which we all seek, to give us the answer to life’s core question?
“I came that they may have life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]”. John 10:10 Amp.
Thomas’s question – Our answer!