Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bring Thyself to Account Each Day...

Once again it has been quite some time since I have had the chance to write. While there are many reasons for this, there are no excuses. If you want to see a bit of what I've been working on, you can check out another blog I've been writing: iqan-study.blogspot.ca.

That's one that a friend and I have been working on for some time, and it has been very rewarding. Only recently have I gone back to the beginning of it and started re-reading some of our insights into that wonderful book, the Kitab-i-Iqan, the Book of Certitude.

But for now, I've been thinking about a question someone recently asked me. I've talked about it before, but I really want to write about it again and thought, "Hey, why not?" It's about that Hidden Word, number 31, "O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds."

How, he wondered, do you bring yourself to account?

Well, as you know, dear Reader, this is just my own way of doing it. Nothing official. But it works for me.

To start, I'll re-tell a story of something that happened shortly after I declared myself a Baha'i.

First, let me just explain that after a long search, with lots of my testing to see whether or not I believed that Baha'u'llah was Who He said He was (and my use of capitals should give you some clue as to my thoughts on that), I decided that I would strive to do whatever He asked of me in the Writings.

And so I read, "Bring thyself to account..." Now I don't think this is just a good idea. He didn't say, as far as I can tell, "You might want to bring yourself to account...", or "It's a good idea to bring thyself..." No. To me, and it's a personal understanding still, it was a command. "Bring thyself..." Do it.

So I did. Or at least I tried.

I started off by looking at all the bad things I had done during the day, feeling bad about it, promising to try and do better, and going to sleep each night. After a few months of this, I began to feel really bad about myself. After all, I was looking at all the things I was doing wrong. I would count the sweets I had, the helpings of ice cream, or root beer, forgetting the vegetables I had enjoyed.

Then, a month or so later, I realized that if I were an accountant, and all I was looking at was my expenditures, I'd be a pretty lousy accountant. I needed to take into account all the good things I had done, too.

So began my daily look at all the good things I had done, all the bad things I had done, all the really good things I had done, and all the really not so good things I had done during the day. As long as the bad things were balanced by the good stuff, I was feeling pretty ok with myself.

But somehow, way in the deep recesses of my brain, I began to look at it all as some sort of cosmic balance. Bad things taken care of by the good? Well, if I have a few extra good things in the balance, then I can have some fun with the less than good things, right? I can enjoy that extra helping of ice cream.

Not quite.

This led to my pausing throughout the day and thinking to myself, "Oh, I'm going to have to account for this at the end of the day. Do I still want to do it?" And this, naturally, led to a change in my own behaviour.

And that, dear Reader, is when my life really began to change.

But all that was somewhere around 30 years ago.

What about now?

Well, the basics haven't really changed all that much, except that a lot of my questioning during the day is more habitual by now. I try not to judge myself, leaving that to God, but still try to judge my own actions. One thing, though. that has changed is my actual looking back over my day in a more detailed sort of way. Now, at least once a day, I try to actively recall as much as I can about my day. I think about how I woke up, whether I was refreshed or not, and what I did when I got out of bed. I think about washing up, making breakfast, what I ate. I think about walking my son to the bus, and what we discussed on the way.

I actually try to go through most of my steps, my thoughts, my reactions. I try to consciously recall my entire day and look back at it objectively, remembering what I did, what I enjoyed, and what I would like to do in the future.

And I find that I am more aware of my life. I remember more of what I have done.

For years, if you had asked me what I had for dinner the night before, I would not have been able to answer you. Today, I could probably tell you what I had a few days ago.

Taking the time to actively look back on my day has given me a greater awareness of the continuity of my life. It has helped me see where I have come from, where I am heading, and led me to a greater appreciation of what I truly value.

So many people tell me that our children grow up so quickly. And while that is true, I feel that I have had a lot more time in my son's life because I feel like I have lived it twice. While the years may seem to rush by, every day takes its time, allowing me to savor the joy of it.

Too often, I think we live unconsciously, letting the days drift by, unaware of any particular one, but taking the time to bring myself to account every day has helped me to be more aware of each day.

And that, my Friend, is a good thing.

Unless I had that extra helping of ice cream.

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