If you’ve been reading most or all of these posts, you can see that over the period of a few years I’ve built myself an interesting and varied life. It’s very different from the years when I was working at my long career. Those where made up of either work and leisure time (pre-kids) or work and family (post-kids). These Tapas Life years are so much more diverse in their array of activities and their engagement with many more of the opportunities that surround us.
And yet, I found my then newly-named Tapas Life to be missing something. I didn’t know what, though. It just felt somehow empty, despite it’s rainbow of enjoyable elements.
The world was fortunately awash with print articles talking about Meaningful Work at that time. In reading some of those articles, the light bulb started to glow ever so dimly. My wife actually wrote her doctoral dissertation on a related topic, so I was able to easily explore further at the dinner table. After enough soak time rattling around in my brain-case, the fully-formed notion that I needed a Meaningful Tapa emerged.
Of course, I had no clue what that might be. I did come to realize that without a Meaningful Tapa, my Tapas Life was incomplete. Part of the problem was that I had very carefully and with lots of consideration and planning programmed myself to pursue a set of Life Goals back in the mid-1980s, and achieved the last of those in 2000, aged 48. What made that a “problem” is that there was really nothing else I wanted out of my time on the planet other than the delight of grandchildren, a matter waaaaaay out of my control! So I had lots of “what’s the point” chatter in my inner dialogue, and this went on rather steadily. I’m a reasonably upbeat guy, or this might have led to a poor outcome…
The environmentalist part of me also regarded my Tapas Life (thus far, still incomplete) as purely hedonistic, a mere vehicle for consumption of the Earth’s resources. A leech of sorts, if you will. Certainly not very flattering and quite dissonant with my values.
As is often the case for an introvert like me, I just kept having silent discussions with myself and chewing on the topic, at length. This was a frustrating process for me, as I usually have a clue of where I’m heading (I sure as hell had a clue of where I was heading when I way busy going after those life goals!). This time I did not.
To be sure, my time on the Board and Exec Committee of our synagogue was in some degree meaningful. My service to our family is definitely meaningful, and yet it is so ingrained as to feel simply that it is a basic part of me, not as though it is something I am doing. And so some other chunk was missing from my life, something that would become my Meaningful Tapa.
More on that in the next post.