I've begun to feel an increased urgency to live a more meaningful life as I've gotten older. This is not uncommon. The urgency intensifies as each year brings one closer to death, statistically speaking. As a young adult, I thought the pursuit of meaning might be spiritual and would begin early in my life. It has come slowly. Starting a career, falling in love, and starting a family have been important events that have contributed to the palpable urgency I now feel.
There's a paragraph in an article on the blog, "The Cleanest Line," that explains what happens to people in terms of this type of maturity once they hit their 30s. I think this explains the shift I'm experiencing.
[T]he frontal lobe of their brain completes its development, becomes fully attached to the brain, and in so doing, completes the process of ‘growing up.’ People start to look at the world with a perspective that’s no longer so ego driven, it becomes easier to see the beauty in things, and they open up to feelings like compassion and empathy in ways that are just plain beyond the ability of younger folks to understand.”
I'll buy that. Makes sense in terms of my experience anyway.
The urgency to find meaning feels more real now. I think it began with the handful of Buddhist books I chose to read in my 20's and 30's, who I chose to marry, and my part in living with someone who studies Buddhism. It has evolved into an approach to life that is based around living compassionately, largely informed by my wife who I consider the more enlightened partner to my pragmatist beliefs.
Recently my personal interests have included martial arts and the connection that awareness of body and mind provides. That link is the simplest path for someone as simple-minded as me to understand. For others this connection is similarly found in Yoga. It feels appropriate to have this parallel of learning something new in martial arts, because as I put on a white belt and gi, I feel free—free as old dude who is trying to learn and move slowly and purposefully.
As I'm being influenced by new ideas, my life is also now inching towards action in pursuing an enlightened attitude regarding my role as a consumer, and experimenting with minimalism in life. When I refer to minimalism, it's the ideological model for making life choices that interests me most, and not simply the aesthetic outcome of living a minimalist lifestyle. As I learn what my opinion is of these ideas for how to live, I also feel the influence on my ideas for how to design with the same intentions.
The welcome part of this confluence of ideas with the knowledge I've acquired in the first 20 or so years of my professional career is that I feel like I am starting over again. But this time, as I empty my cup, I feel equipped to actually begin working with intent.