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The Power of Principles Plus Tempting Yearnings

Like an unexploded grenade, the question popped up innocently enough in my inbox.

What will be your guiding principles during the coming year?

A quick retort accompanies my hand reaching for the buzzer. Principle Number one will be "to not entertain such questions anymore!" 

I much prefer asking these questions rather than being asked.

The question was provocative if only judged by the flurry of responses that came, unbidden.

  • Comfort
  • Convenience
  • Extraordinary results with minimal effort
  • Knowledge without study
  • Self-knowledge without discomfort
  • Intimacy without risk

Of course, I would never publicly disclose such a list. As a trained professional, I would compose principles that carry a sense of noble purpose seasoned with just the right amount of Canadian humility.

Even as I hit the Delete button, the spectre of the question continued to float.

As if one provocative question was not enough to start the new year, another question distilled as I worked on an innocent reflection on the Magi seeking the new King.

For what do I seek?

Take that question down a level. For what do I yearn?

I tried to plead age. Am I not too old to be entertaining such thoughts? Does not the invisibility of retirement also bring exemption from life-shaping questions? Or, could it be that only the answers change?

Once again, the question prompts a storm of responses.

  • A diet full of sugar, fat, and salt leaves me healthy and slim.
  • A weight reduction scheme that requires only the purchase of a pill, magazine or book to work its magic
  • Service without sacrifice.

I could feel the momentum building even as I knew the answer provided a flimsy defence.

The strategy shifted towards deflection. Why bother with these uncomfortable questions? Do not principles and yearnings carry the same half-life as New Year's resolutions? After an emotionally intense day, do they not collapse on the couch, potato chips in hand, as quickly as those resolutions for exercise and healthy eating?

Unfortunately, the matter of principles and yearnings does not vanish. They go undercover to re-emerge with a new face, a new James Bond after No Time to Die.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. What a wonderful and challenging question! Ever since reading Robert Raines book Living the Questions in the 1970’s (or was it the 80’s?) I welcome questions. They are like an itch that no scratch relieves. So thank you for this question to take with me through the coming days and into the next year. Blessings, Barb

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