As you may or may not know, I was brought up Christian. We went to church every Sunday and I memorized lots of Bible passages. I used to have a big book of Bible stories that I loved. (Esther was my favorite) But I was thinking of the first three kings of Israel, Saul, David, and Solomon. Of those, Solomon was my favorite.
Now the favorite of any good Christian girl should be David. After all, he was the most god-fearing of the three. And in Christianity, it’s how you end up that counts. The apostle Paul, for example, started off persecuting Christians (until God struck him blind) but ended up being the most influential person in the early church. Solomon, on the other hand, started out god-fearing but by the end he had turned away from God.
But when Solomon was a young man, just starting out his rule, God came to him in a dream and asked him what he would like, and Solomon asked him for wisdom. God was pleased with his answer, so he gave him wisdom, and riches and honor besides. Even as a kid, I could understand where Solomon was coming from. It was daunting just to figure out what do with my life, the idea of ruling a kingdom–what a difficult task that would be. Life seemed so confusing and there were so many things I didn’t get. How great it would be understand things!
Of course, Solomon ending up with riches and a harem of 1,000 women is promptly glossed over as the cause of his downfall. Don’t idolize Solomon, kids. Yes, he was wise and filthy rich and could have any number of beautiful women–but he went to hell. But coming from a more secular perspective, you could interpret that first he gained wisdom, then material abundance and a rocking love life. (I suppose he might have been unhappy having a 1,000 women to choose from, but I somehow doubt it.)
I still admire Solomon. It seems like the older the I get, the more I realize what I don’t know. And I hope that at least I’ll at least acquire some wisdom on my way to old age. In fact, I just finished a book that had a section on happiness and it was citing studies that generally people over 65 are happier than people in their 30s (assuming good health). People get better on focusing on the good stuff and ignoring the inevitable negative stuff. They also spend more time on the experiences that bring the most happiness.
Although that is somewhat comforting, it also is a little disconcerting. So I’ll probably figure out what it’s all about right before I die? Of course there is the perspective that the basic meaning of life is to figure out the meaning of life before you die. And maybe have some fun along the way.
I know for me, I would like to be able to make a positive difference in this world. But you have to get to a certain level of “evolvedness” first. If I’m depressed, for example, I can’t help anyone–in fact, I will need help from other people. And even being average, going to my job, taking of my family, etc., it more a net gain of zero than anything else. To make a difference means I have to get to a place where I have the means to take care of myself and my family–I’m not going to be of much use if I can’t pay my own mortgage and feed my family. It means I have to be emotionally mature enough to roll with the punches. And it means I will need clarity on what it is I want to accomplish.
Not that it’s not worth it, but that’s a lot of work. Like any big project, it’s mostly going to come about by small changes made consistently, rather than any big ones made irregularly. And consistency does not come naturally to me, I have to work at that too. Well, I suppose even if I don’t have clarity yet about the big picture, I’ve got plenty of things to work on in the meantime.