Dani Shapiro's book Devotion is about her journey to create a life that she wanted to live, to find answers about spirituality that made sense to her. She paid attention to what was important to her and began living purposefully, spending her time according to those values.
The idea is not a new one, though the words to express it may change. Living your priorities, act don't react, living mindfully, living consciously, purposeful living, living with intention, self actualization, the value driven life--all the same idea.
Beyond survival, and there are too many people who don't have the luxury of deciding how they want to live, life offers so many distractions. We work, buy, set up schedules for ourselves, make commitments, establish a lifestyle and maybe dream about our next vacation. Yet despite our knowledge of our limited time, many of us don't live.
I'm good at goal setting. I decide to do something, I usually do it. But accomplishing tasks is different from being different, living differently, living the way you want to live versus doing what you want to do. I'm not so good at that.
Sometimes living intentionally means giving up a part of your life you love to have time or the space for a commitment you want more. The giving up must often come first and without certainty that the new addition will be as rewarding. Often it means you can't go back. That's not an easy choice to make.
So we watch television, we plan for retirement, we live half aware because the choices are too scary and it's easier to stay with what we know than to risk the unknown.
Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. The too closely examined life with no action may not be living. We each make our choices and find our own answers and for right now I'm okay with knowing I'm making a choice, even if it might be to go slowly down a new path so there's an option to make a few turns back if I want.