Monday Meditation: On Learning to Live

Although this time of the year is quite busy, frantic even, I think it is important to continue to think and reflect on life.

Life consists in learning to live on one’s own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one’s own—be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid.

–Thomas Merton in “Learning to Live”

Merton’s words offer a challenge to live differently than what one might consider normal. He encourages the reader to be spontaneous; to live with the guidelines for their existence only what resonates with his or her heart. What one should offer the world is a part of that existence. And in doing so, an authentic offering is made. He also makes a challenge for knowing oneself. In our world of constant expression and search for identity this can be difficult indeed. It’s uncomfortable to think about ourselves for very long. Our thoughts quickly turn to others, for we are relational beings. But I find something beautiful and captivating in the phrase “be familiar and at home with oneself.” Can we take some of the energy we spend in relating to others and use it instead in relating to ourselves, I wonder.

How have you become “at home” with yourself? Have you discovered what you can offer the world? What do you do to share your authentic self with the world?


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