I've been doing a fair bit of thinking over the last few months about beliefs and habits and goals. Serious smoke-inducing thoughts that require more than one little hamster running on a wheel up there. I would hardly classify them as profound or as an enlightenment. I would, however, describe having a sense of clarity about many things in my life.
Many of the rules and habits taught to me growing up I find well-founded, purposeful, and beneficial. Many others I never did get a straight answer for why. Nobody had an answer except "that's just the way things are done" and I reluctantly acquiesced. I found myself floating about, somewhat unhappy with the way a select few, though critical aspects of my life were going, why I was doing some of the things I was doing, or even why I was thinking the way I was thinking simply because "that's the way things are done." A lot of that began to change in my early twenties. I did a great deal of traveling (still a passion), had a good job, did the whole medical school thing, and discovered that a lot of people in a lot of different places had the same mindset: that we do things because that's just the way things are done, and are perfectly content with that. I, however, couldn't help but think to myself this is stupid!
I had this realization that there was nothing keeping me from seeking out things I wanted or felt were better for me than what I was currently experiencing other than my own fear of breaking the mold. I understood that I wasn't happy with a few things in my life, and many of them lifestyles and habits that I had been taught--not values.
Some of what I am experiencing stems simply from asserting oneself as an individual, and not still a child in their parents' house. That's not an easy step for anybody, and it's the most difficult on a parent.
I read a book recently called Among the Thugs by Bill Buford. While it's technically a piece about Football Hooliganism and its origins and implications, one quote really spoke to me.
"I have so many images for it--this state of being a citizen, of being civilized. I see it as a net that holds me in place, keeps me from falling. I see it as a fabric--a network of individual threads, intertwined, pulled tight--that keeps me warm, that I can wrap around both me and others. I see it as a property, a house, a structure, a made thing, walls to keep out the cold, a door to keep out the unwanted, a roof to protect me from the night and its terrible undifferentiated darkness.
But I see it, too, as a weight. I see it as a barrier, an obstacle between me and something I don't know or understand. I see it as a mediator, a filter that allows only certain kinds of experience through."