It really is hard to believe we are in the third week of this pandemic. This past Sunday I went on Netflix and found a couple of interesting documentaries. The first was entitled Minimalism. It was about two best friends who both pursued high powered careers in the corporate world and became very successful. However, once they achieved this success, they discovered that they were extremely unhappy. They realized that they were constantly striving for more and were not slowing down. They also realized that once they had the nicest house and the nicest car and the nicest clothes, they were not any happier than before. Ultimately, they downsized in all aspects of their lives. They left their high powered corporate careers, sold their cars, downsized their houses and wardrobes and simplified everything. What did they find: happiness and peace.
The other documentary that I watched was called Iron Cowboy. It was about a 38 year old, married, father of five, Ironman triathlete names James Lawrence who set out on a quest to complete 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 states in 50 days. What does this entail? A 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run every day for 50 days. Talk about extreme! Talk about excessive! What did he encounter? Exhaustion, lack of sleep, lack of proper nutrition, crashes, etc. He also drove his family nuts as he pursued this insane goal! His wife got frustrated and his children desired his attention (which he was obviously not able to give). Yes, he achieved an insane goal and set a World Record, but in the end he simply found himself wanting more. He wasn't satisfied. He immediately started thinking about his next goal, his next crazy task.
After watching both of these documentaries it led me to a few thoughts. One, I thought of the St. Augustine quote: "Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you." No job, no great accomplishment, no promotion, no world record, no possession, etc. can ever bring us the happiness that can only be found in Christ. The trappings of the world will only lead us to wanting more and more.
Additionally, I thought of the Jesuits' First Principle and Foundation, which states:
God created human beings to praise, reverence, and serve God, and by doing this, to save their souls. God created all other things on the face of the earth to help fulfill this purpose. From this it follows that we are to use the things of this world only to the extent that they help us to this end, and we ought to rid ourselves of the things of this world to the extent that they get in the way of this end.
I thought of this especially when watching the first documentary, Minimalism. Material possessions can never replace relationships; they can never give your life the value and meaning that a spouse or child can give. More importantly, they can never give you the peace that faith can. It is important to always ask, What value do our material possessions add to our lives and do they enable us to further our relationship with Christ?
Finally, it led me to reflect on this time of quarantine. One thing that I have found and truly value during this time is the opportunity to be with family. I am truly enjoying the time with my wife and two sons. I have also spent time cleaning out. As I clean out, I realize there is so much that I do not use and do not need. Cleaning out the clutter is so refreshing. It truly gives me a sense of freedom and clarity.
So, I ask you to respond to the following question:
What, during this time of COVID-19, have you found a greater appreciation for (maybe a relationship, a hobby, a friend, etc.) and what do you realize you don't miss?