Friday, April 10, 2009

What sustains you?

I saw world-class interviewer and journalist Terry Gross a few days ago. She said a lot of things that made me think, but one stood out. She made a reference to finding out what sustains people when she interviews them.

Interesting question.

What sustains you?

I've never put it in those terms before, but it makes you think. The toughest part of life, to me, is finding the answer to this question and striving to achieve it.

I like this phrasing better than asking what drives, inspires and motivates me because I feel it encompasses all of them.

To sustain anything it takes a plethora of ingredients. Many things go into sustaining something, such as a plant. The same is true of people. We all have things that allow us to continue on in this world as better, more whole people.

I guess for a lack of better wording, I'm going to call this sustaining me.

What sustains you?

To begin answering this question is to start a response that has no end. But that's how it should be. It contains everything we love to do. Everything we do for ourselves each day.

But it's more than this. It's about what sustains our soul. What makes us wake up every day. What makes us look forward to tomorrow. What makes us human.

Many things sustain me. Friends. Family. Music. Nature. To name just a few.

Too often I find myself content with the ruts and monotony of everyday life. Happy just to go to sleep each day knowing I've gotten through one more. But at the end of the day where does this put us?

One day closer to graduation? One day closer to the real world? One day closer to death?

It's a depressing way to put it, but sometimes that's the only way to make a point. So I'll ask again:

What sustains you?

I'm surprised to find that even the smallest of things gives importance to my life. Buying a book. Taking a walk. A good conversation. Sometimes what sustains us isn't the big things that we do but the small. Because lives are made up more by the continual occurrence of the small rather than the big, despite how glamorous and life-changing the big may be.

What sustains me?

I don't have the answer to this question, and I may never have it. But that's not the point, really. Just asking the right questions is enough. It's about training yourself to think of life in a certain way more than it is finding all the answers. Because you will never run out of questions no matter how many answers you find.

What sustains you?

1 comment:

  1. More than what sustains me, I like to think in terms of how I can make my life a manifestation of joy. That might not fit as well in a succinct question, but I like it better because sustain seems more survival-oriented, as if the things that sustain you are the things that are preventing you from taking that final plunge into physical or mental death.

    At least for me, the words joy, happiness, and (despite it's overuse) inspiration have more positive connotations than the word sustain, because the former words point to a potentially profound shift in human consciousness away from the "ruts and monotony of everyday life" that you mentioned. The word joy might as well be metaphysical jargon in the minds of most people who "happily" clog away at the endless workbench of modern society, which has been so successful in imprinting a type of psychological and behavioral conditioning on the masses. For example, many people believe that it is natural for humans to be existentially defined by their jobs or hobbies...or most of all, by how "hard" they work at the aforementioned workbench. If we just put in enough hard work, sweat, and painful toil, society promises us that personal happiness will arrive at some unidentified time in the future, perhaps in the afterlife. Perhaps in the afterlife.