What Am I Doing With My Life?

David Bowie's The Next Day


Cafe Communion Talk – 19 Jan 17

This week I watched a documentary about the last five years of David Bowie’s life.

Available here (only to end of Feb 2017)

It was a very powerful and inspiring film… and personally challenging. It showed a man of incredible creative energy and drive who worked with great purpose and openness; still innovating, still exploring.

It also showed how he learned of his terminal cancer diagnosis, and how in the last years – knowing his time was limited – he continued to work and innovate, and indeed turned his death into a piece of art; leaving questions – and surprises – still.

The film left me asking ‘what am i doing with my life?’ When you see so much drive and creativity it does raise those kinds of questions… am i doing enough? How can i be more productive, more creative?

I wonder how many of us struggle with the thought ‘what am I doing with my life?’ When compared to others it can seem very easy to become self-critical, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. We are all more aware of our shortcomings and weaknesses than others around us. And in an era of social media saturation it is all too easy to think we are not doing as well as others around us – not the great parent, partner, activist, right-on thinker etc. as all those smiling, trouble-free lives we are exposed to.

The point i wish to make today is that we are very used to this sense of pressure to be productive, (or ‘better’) today. The philosophy of positivism has influenced our thinking, and the desire for ‘results’ becomes compelling….

But the biblical witness suggests an alternative reading of our worth. That we are Being, that we have value in not what we do; but in who we are, and with whom we relate.

Of course we like to be creative, to be human is to be compelled towards novelty and curiosity, we naturally develop and evolve, through those same relationships. We are both being and becoming. We are human be(com)ing.

But this requires us to trust the process of life a little more, to trust the moments that we are in, to both ‘be’, and yet seek ways to ‘become’, to be creative and respond.

The contemplative traditions suggests something useful here. They speak of finding God within, in the still voice, of in silence. We often buy into the idea of finding God by reaching out, trying hard, working hard. Yet the mystics would say…

‘take time, be still, be silent, and discover that which is inside you…’

So we are are inspired to be creative and innovative – its part of what makes us human, and for some – that drive is engulfing. But so too is the time to be measured.. quiet and open to possibility.

We negotiate the space between activity and stillness, between creativity and simply being. We can resist the pressure to compare and to conform. We can discover – in the presence and gift of others – the space of be(com)ing.