Sunday, June 25, 2006


Another case of joined up thinking over the last few days and nothing to do with the World Cup (sorry for any disappointment Kate! Altho' whilst on the sporting train of thought I am currently rather relieved to have just missed the England v Sri Lanka ODI cricket series - I think leaving the country post Ashes was a good move...).

Ministry this morning focused around 'why are we here' in it's various forms - why are we: in this room, Quakers, alive - and how the first two can help answer the third. It all started out from someone referring to Leith's WGYF report (which has just been finally published in our YM Newsletter) and how Leith had felt accepted within the community there as a Quaker even as a minority (atheist Friend) within a minority (unprogrammed Friends) and why it felt right to be there.

People spoke about their various reasons for being amongst Friends, as fellow seekers, as a support group working towards common ideals etc. In the last piece of ministry Jonathan spoke about how he sees god as taking a personal interest in him and using the silence to find what god wants him to do in life.

Having sat there for almost an hour meandering around (but not managing to be very focused) trying to make my mind up about something it was a gentle reminder for me not to be worrying about what I want to do about it but to seek guidance as to what route I should be taking, and just because I'm feeling tugged along in a particular direction it doesn't mean I know what I should be doing when I get there.

Compare and contrast... oh how I used to dread those words!

On Friday I was helping out at a workshop and at the beginning the example was given of a bunch of students who set out goals for themselves, some of whom wrote them down, and those who didn't and what they went on to achieve in life afterwards - the gist of it being if you have goals to aim for you can do better (can't remember the finer details - was too busy preparing resources for another part of the day!) - a link back to Pete's post about having a big enough dream?

It got me thinking about when I was a student, what might my goals have been - and wondering if I wrote them down or not (quite possibly in my journal - not as a set of goals as such but more likely as several pages of waffle! However my old journals are 12,000 miles away and safely locked up so I can't check). Had I been asked in a 'you can say anything you want it doesn't have tbe realistic' way then the chances are I would have come up with something along the lines of the work I've been doing with Quakers over the last few years - being paid to organise YF events, host travelling Quakers, networking etc etc etc - I just don't think I would have believed it possible! So do they count as goals? Does this mean I've achieved them?

So where does this leave me now?

You've got to have a dream, 'cos if you don't have a dream, then how you gonna have a dream come true?

OK, I have a dream... (nothing as laudable as Martin Luther King's and definitely not for public broadcast... yet!)

I guess you could say part of which fits into 'goals' - like being able to stay here.

But. There's always a 'but'.

How do I balance following my dreams and goals with, to use Jonathan's words, seeking 'what god wants me to do'? Especially when I'm feeling decidedly short on the patience front and want an answer 'now' (well ok, the next few weeks will do but don't leave it any longer ok?!)

Whilst I've been typing this up the song
'Wait, wait, wait in the silence,
Wait, wait let the gathering unite'
has been persistently going through my head. Ok, ok, ok - I submit... I'll wait. But that doesn't mean I want to!


flurble said...

Did you go to Quaker events in your Youth? The list of goals I was able to drag out of a drawer dates from a young women's weekend I went to...

... some of them I have achieved (visit America), some of them I may never achieve (beat Edward Green in GCSEs), some of them I'm no longer sure I want to achieve (get married), and some of them might appear if I started writing a list now (be confident) ...

(your student workshop does remind me of a timeplanning workshop I went to which said similarly; if you have some idea of what you want to "achieve" in life you can prioritise better.)

pete said...

It can be a good idea to have four or five different sets of goals and backup goals, just in case your life plays out in a way that's not exactly how you expect. There are so many different patterns for a lifetime... Inventor, Artist, Adventurer, Evangelist (eek!), Family anchor, Business achiever, and who says you need to follow an established pattern anyway? Make up your own.

But if you can look at what your life would be if you were a Tutor, get a feel for how your "three score and ten years" might play out if you were an athlete, try on what your whole life might look like as a diplomat, in a full-length mirror, see what's you, and what's not.

The thing that got me is that I had only one set of life goals, and it all centered around having a family. When that all went to custard there was nothing left, like when a football star loses a leg in a car accident, and the only thing he's ever wanted to do is play football.

Well if you have heaps of opportunity, and give yourself heaps of scope, and come up with heaps of alternatives, a really big life change (the likes of which happen all the time) doesn't become a disaster, or a huge internal pull in two directions, just a changing of focus between favourable goals that you've already decided you want included as part of your life.

People will read about the one-legged Hollywood screenwriter and wonder how in his youth he somehow thought he could have a career playing soccer.

If you have a dream, you can have a dream come true. And if you have some plans, you can have a change of plans. I think Captain Sensible said the first bit, and Captain Outrageous is not available for comment on the last of it.