Don’t Chase Anything You Don’t Want To Catch

imagesMany people, myself included, have pursued happiness and pleasure in places where we know it will not be found.  It is tempting to seek the comfort of material things and indulge yourself, pursue appetites and the satisfactions of the flesh.

When I was young, my mother watched my pursuit of pleasure with sadness at the thought that I could be so consumed by such superficial interests.  While I always suspected her displeasure, nothing was said until she found the proper occasion – a neighbor’s dog injured while chasing a car.

When I commented on this sad incident, my mother took the opportunity.   “Let that be a lesson to you,” she said.  “Don’t chase anything you don’t want to catch.”

Her comment gave me pause – then and now.  If you think about it, it has a broad as well as a specific application.  It makes you question your priorities and the way you spend your time.

What do you chase and why?  Is what you are chasing – the object of your activities and desires – something you really want, something worth keeping?

Who among us would prefer a series of superficial relationships to true love?  Who would want great wealth if it came with the condition it could not be shared?  Would anyone knowingly choose a life of ease and comfort over a life of meaning and purpose?  If not, why do we do so much of what we do?

“If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities, it becomes sick,” Rollo May observed, “just as your legs would wither if you never walked.”  Much of this sickness is evident in the world despite our attempts to camouflage our failings with the pursuit of meaningless things.

The greatest regret we can have is not that our lives shall come to an end, but rather that it shall never have a beginning.  To be what we are, and to become what are capable of becoming, is the noblest end in life.  Our duty is to become useful, not according to our desires but according to our powers.

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4 Responses to Don’t Chase Anything You Don’t Want To Catch

  1. Julia says:

    Bill, you have such amazing insight into life. Know how much it’s appreciated!
    Julia

  2. Chad Foster says:

    Once again, Bill puts it into words that we all can understand. Just read the passage to my two boys, nine and eleven, who ‘got it’. Thanks for providing a critical parenting message for our Sunday morning. Chad Foster

  3. Fotini Vidalis ( Halamandaris) says:

    Congratulations Bill. You have a talent of putting across the simplicity of life. It is essential that we become aware of what you advise us. In addition, I will take the liberty to quote my favourite poem by Cavafy:
    If you cannot fashion your life as you would like,
    endeavour to do this at least,
    as much as you can: do not trivialize it
    through too much contact with the world,
    through too much activity and chatter.

    Do not trivialize your life by parading it,
    running around displaying it
    in the daily stupidity
    of cliques and gatherings
    until it becomes like a tiresome guest.

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