There are many words describing me in the slim journal I bought for my 40th birthday.
Some make me stop and think. Others are so well-stated I can only nod assent. A few are so unexpected I haven't yet assimilated them into my vision of myself. But one word appears several times, in entries by friends who don't even know each other. That word is intentional.
One friend says the very existence of a journal to explore who I am is evidence of my intentionality. While some words frighten me with implied responsibility, intentional is a word I will gladly own.
I want, perhaps more than anything else, to live intentionally. I want to choose my path and walk it with my eyes open, not somnambulate through life. This is a continual choose, not a rigid setting forth nor a stubborn refusal to take the scenic route. But this continual choosing is deliberate and thoughtful, even when of-the-moment.
I don't want life to happen to me. I claim an ownership stake in my yesterdays, todays and tomorrows. One way I claim this is by planning. Without forethought and a plan, I wouldn't get many of the moments I treasure: a Thursday afternoon at Cheekwood isn't possible without three previous days of working ahead, family vacations don't appear fully formed from my forehead and family dinners require provision and preparation.
The best plans I make are those I hold loosely, that I am willing to change as a part of the continuous choosing of my life. Because while I believe in planning, I also subscribe to the theory that plans, like rules, are made to be broken. I want a plan to help me get where I'm going, not to shame me for taking too long to get there.
As I read the words I've written so far, I think I might sound like a bit of a control freak. But I don't equate intentionality with control. Things happen (every day) that are beyond my control or choosing. I can fight against that or I can choose my response to those things. I'm not a control freak, but I do believe I always, always have a choice. Even when life hits me with hard things, I can choose to hide, walk through the pain or cower in fear.
I think the beauty of living intentionally is that it enables you to turn your back on shame and regret. If I've consciously chosen the path I'm on, I'm far less likely to back with regret or longing on the things that brought me here. I don't do this (or anything) perfectly. I have days where I seem to simply be pulled through life by my to-do list or the activities we have on the calendar. Those same days can find me numbing out with a book or a game instead of choosing rest for my weary soul. But even though I fail repeatedly, I want to be intentional.
|A Cheekwood Day: Valentine's 2013|
May I remember that I can continually choose - even on those days when life feels bigger than I am.
May I always see before me the choices I have and may I choose one, instead of passively waiting for new choices to appear.
May I stay anchored to the present, where choices live.
May I remain awed, humbled and inspired by the chance to be intentional.