An Ideal Life?
WHEN I was in high school, I dreamed of being in show business, of performing on television or working in radio. It would just happen, I thought, and there would be nothing to stand in the way of success.Later on I began to see that the course of human life isn't as simple as it seems in our daydreams. I hadn't considered the variety of people's tastes, the fierce competition, and numerous other factors. Nor did I take into account that there would be changes in my own outlook. Although I still appreciated performing, other things became more important to me. Show business experience did come along eventually--but it came in quite a different form than my youthful daydreams. We sometimes hear about the ideal life versus the life we end up living. The suggestion is that the "realities of life include hardships and sometimes cruelties, which prevent us from living the existence we dream about. It could be, though, that some adjustment is needed in what we consider an ideal life and what we feel the source of our satisfaction really is. The world sometimes urges us to think that our goal should be fame or a prestigious position. While hard work is always a key to success and progress is a demand made on us all, should our aim be simply to attain a lofty position in the sight of the world? Christ Jesus said at one point, John's Gospel records: "I receive not honour from men. . . . How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? There's nothing wrong with fame, per se, and certainly nothing wrong with being recognized for a valuable contribution, whatever it may be. But the ideal life isn't so much a matter of forcing ourselves to be what worldly thinking suggests we must be, as it is a matter of waking up to what we really are as God's image. In a profound sense, we don't have to become something in order to live an ideal life. More than anything, we need to recognize that our real being already includes all good. As God's spiritual likeness, man is inseparable from all that God provides. The elements, then, that we associate with worthiness and satisfaction and success we have access to now. They may not appear in the form projected by limited, human reasoning. But they will appear in fresh, appropriate ways as we grow in the perception and demonstration of our true selfhood. How do we do this growing? The book of Micah says simply, "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? In a similar vein, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, comments in her Message to The Mother Church for 1902, "To live and let live, without clamor for distinction or recognition; to wait on divine Love; to write truth first on the tablet of one's own heart,--this is the sanity and perfection of living, and my human ideal. A humble yielding to the divine will begins to open up a truer view of ourselves. We begin to see that we're not mortals, striving for an ideal life, but God's spiritual offspring, expressing divine Life itself, which includes all good. Clearly, our work to see and prove this isn't always easy. To those struggling under oppressive circumstances, it's not enough simply to say that life is good. Yet because man--our genuine selfhood--is God's likeness, all of us include good. We're really inseparable from it. This is a fact of who we are. And because it's a fact, our efforts to prove it through prayer and humble, Godlike living must bear fruit. We don't have to dream about an ideal life. We can begin to experience it, even modestl y, right where we are.