Taking total responsibility for all facets of your life can lead to great change, but it can also lead to great exhaustion.
The idea that you have untold potential beneath the surface waiting to be unleashed is enticing. Instead of being stuck with a body, relationship, or job you don’t like, you can accomplish everything you put your mind to. How?
Take complete ownership.
You are the reason you are in a job that sucks.
You are the reason you don’t have satisfying relationships.
You are the reason you haven’t lost weight.
There are no extraneous factors to blame, only yourself. It’s a bit irrational, yes, but this simple mindset was a breath of fresh air to my cognition. I could no longer hide from not living up to my potential because I couldn’t put the onus on something else.
I struggle with the idea of faith about every week or so. I yearn for a more mystical aspect of my life, but my rational mind can’t open up to stories that are literally false even if they may contain metaphorical truth. Every few months, I open a bible and read some of the lines imbibing the feelings of meaning and purpose only an ancient text can satisfy. It starts to crumble soon, however, when I start realizing I’m trying to find solace in a 2000 year old book fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies authored by illiterate people who could not pass elementary science class.
Seven Story Mountain is a retelling of Thomas Merton’s spiritual journey which starts much like my own: yearning for that mystical meaning and direction, he tries to figure out himself. He tries a few different sources (politics, hedonism, intellectualism) but still finds an empty hole in his heart. He eventually fills it with Catholicism. My favorite quotes of the book echo my own sentiments about meaning in the modern world even if our solutions diverge quite drastically. There is much more to bring us together than separate us, though I’m not sure he would agree.
What I don’t understand is why this book is pegged as a look into Monastery life. This is a misleading focal point of the book cover, preface, and online commentary. Merton’s book is really one puff of air on being a monk and a full exhale on his life before hand. This did disappoint: his quotidian life as a youth overstayed its welcome while the exotic life of the monastery was never fully explored.