I need to use what I have.

It’s an annual conversation for us.

“What do you need for your birthday?”

“I need to use what I have.”

I don’t need more running gear, I need to run. I don’t need more journals, I need to write.

In The Next Right Thing, Emily P. Freeman suggests that we “stop collecting gurus.” She describes looking through her inbox and discovering emails from coaches and consultants with quiz results and next steps and lists of strategies for getting better at countless things.

She suggests that gurus are helpful when we need a plan, but not when we need a vision or a purpose.


I thought of that when I looked at the new Joshua Becker book the other day: Things That Matter: Overcoming Distraction to Pursue a More Meaningful Life. I started laughing.

I’m reading Bob Goff’s Undistracted: Capture Your Purpose. Rediscover Your Joy. And the aforementioned The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions. And rereading Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

I haven’t read Becker’s book, but the others are solid practical help. But I’m running the risk of collecting gurus rather than doing the actual work of stopping and listening and getting clear about what I’m called to do.

Not what I can do, mind you. There are many things that I could do. And some of them I could do well. But with my 64th birthday on Sunday, I know that I’m not longer middle aged. And with the death that I see regularly at my hospital work, I know that I don’t have infinite time here.

It’s probably worth turning to some words from David:

Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

I will.


People who are grieving hear all kinds of annoying things from friends. This Is Hard: What I Say When Loved Ones Die offers you 15 short sentences that will help you, not preach at you, and a journal to help you remember what matters. The Kindle version is .99 for my birthday.

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