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What Does “in” the World vs. “of” the World Really Mean?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably run through a ton of ideas of how to make your life better. By better I mean more manageable, more personally meaningful, more proactive and more self-contained. Wouldn’t it be nice to be unencumbered enough to make your own choices, work hard at what you love and, in the end, know that the work you do, in some way, makes some kind of difference?

So many of us bungee cord from wanting to contribute in a meaningful way to wanting to escape simply altogether…disappear and live quietly in some remote place filled with villagers who share our values. We teeter between TA-DA and bye-bye now! Right?

This is because the world around us never seems to fit us or line up with our inner world (no matter how scary or complicated it feels in there). Well, I have news for you; it never will. It never was supposed to. Every prophet, deep thinker, spiritual leader or religious preacher has written or talked about it. You know, “be in the world but not of it” wasn’t only to warn of the world dangers, or its temptations or its “sin” (if you must), its just stating the simple fact. Our real life, the one we brought with us and the one we take with us after we depart here, (wherever one believes that is), has very little to do with the very short time we’re physically “on tour” here in the world. I say tour because I think that’s a good analogy since that’s about how long we’re actually here.

So, go with me for a moment. If you say, book a first-time trip to Italy you go, you see, and you partake. But when you return are you now an Italian? Do you suddenly live your life like an Italian? Are you now governed by its rules? No. Their culture may have inspired you. Their food may now influence your cooking. You may buy an Italian music CD, but that’s it. You took a tour of their world. You weren’t of it, but for a brief time, you were in it. You got all the good benefits from being there because you were only an observer there for a short time.

Had you lived there for a while your POV might have been completely different. Their realities may have intruded on your realities as you got more entrenched, knew more people there, got caught up in the drama of their everyday lives. But that didn’t happen because while you were fully engaged there, interacted there, was even inspired there…it was from the perspective that you wouldn’t necessarily be there that long. When you left that world to come back to your own, that world seemed like it could very well be another planet.

So too should it be in our own daily world. If we observe and experience it like we won’t be in it forever, our fear of being trapped in it or governed by it decreases significantly, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, our curiosity heightens as observers and our willingness to get out and explore it feels far less threatening.

If we focus on being part of humanity, versus getting trapped in individual people’s drama, we stay clear of the one-on-one judgments and complicated decisions we’ll no doubt be forced to make…sides we’ll have to choose, approvals we’ll have to keep, influences that don’t enhance but detract from our quality of lives.

We can either spend our time commenting on the world around us, trying to fit into it, trying to gain its respect, defending ourselves against its disapproval, or we can drag all that meaningless stuff off our desktop and into the trash. With a ton of memory now freed up, we can then go back to our hard drive and enable the creativity tools we all came here with but in all the noise just forgot the password.

The choices are always yours!


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