On Choosing Your Obligations With Carefeatured

We get scared that being our true selves won’t get us where we want to be.

But if being ourselves gets us there, then maybe that is destination we truly desire.

What does that say about what life obligations you should choose? What does it say about how to serve the world?

The lifequester (a word I came up with in my book How To Be Alive) chooses her commitments and responsibilities carefully. She does not choose the ones that are in line with “getting her what she wants.” She chooses the ones that are in line with “being who she is.” In this way, she keeps her promises and honors her commitments not because she said she would, but because they are in line with her nature.

This is what we mean by “going where you are called.”

Imagine a farmer who has captured a strong wild horse. Other farmers have tried to corral this horse, but every day the horse just jumps their fences and every day they have to fetch him back from the surrounding countryside. Each of them has given up, but now our new farmer has a turn.

Each morning, he feeds and waters the horse in the stable and then opens the stable door so the horse can roam free. Each evening, his fellow farmers come to him laughing. “Your horse is in my field” or “Your horse is on the hill.” Our farmer goes and gets the horse, brings him home, beds him down for the night, and begins again in the morning.

Over time, the horse roams the valleys and hills and farms. But one night, a friend tells our farmer, “Your horse is under the tree by the stream.” And a few nights later, the farmer again finds the horse by the stream. Before long, no one needs to tell the farmer where the horse is. He is always under the tree by the stream.

The wild horse has explored the land far and wide and has found the place it likes to graze and rest. Now our farmer gathers together the fence and posts for his corral. Everyone says it is pointless. The horse will jump the fences, just as he always has. Except the farmer erects his corral under the tree by the stream. The horse never even attempts to escape. The other farmers are amazed.

One day, our farmer knows, his horse will have eaten the grass down or the wind will blow differently and the horse will jump the fence and begin to roam. But the farmer does not worry. The horse will let him know where next to build the corral.

Let yourself wander. Then build your limits and obligations where you find yourself staying. That is the place from which you will most comfortably and happily serve the world. That is the way to build your house where you Truly live.

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