Recently a friend of mine from work moved on to a new opportunity and a new town. We started two months apart from each other and had developed a good friendship over the years. As he left it got me thinking about how we can take the people around us for granted. It’s easy not to think about the fact that your friends you have now will not always live nearby, and I think that often leads to a lack of intentional development of our friendships.
I don’t feel as “deep” as I used to. In college especially life felt particularly full of depth. I constantly got to have meaningful conversations, plus spending all my time with other 20 year olds certainly led to plenty of messiness, but I love to be in the thick of things so I found a lot of meaning in the mess.
Now, it can be difficult to feel a lot of depth working a 9 to 5, and it’s something that you have to work at. It would be so convenient to grind through the day, and just try to make it through. Of course, there is still meaning and depth to my life, but I think now I have to work for it a lot more. I have to be intentional about it, but maybe that’s the whole point.
It’s easy to stay on the surface of life. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, it’s known. There aren’t as many surprises on the surface, and it’s more controlled. Seeking depth and growth in life can lead to a lot of messiness, especially when you’re living life with other people and are connected with their struggles as well.
But I think that a lot of joy and meaning can be found by going deeper in life. Diving deep in your work, relationships, and in your own head. We aren’t meant to lead a superficial life. We are relational and tribal people, and connection with each other can have a strong correlation with the satisfaction we feel in life.
I hope that more often we will take time to ask the bigger questions to our friends and coworkers. Questions that lead to those good conversations that fill your soul. I hope we move away from always asking the questions of “How’s it going?” or “How are you?” that always lead to one word responses, and move towards questions that lead to depth and an explanation.
The default setting is to stay on the surface of life, so it takes effort and being purposeful to dive deep. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Want to impact people’s lives for the better? Ask them a good question tomorrow and then listen.
Sometimes life will create meaning for you. Making a big transition or decision like starting a family or starting a new career will create a lot of meaning. But a lot of life is not automatically meaningful, and if you stay at the surface you won’t experience the full goodness of life. In the routines of life we need to be deliberate about seeking depth and not staying on the surface, otherwise long chunks of our lives will fly by and we won’t even notice.
If you feel like your life is superficial then try being a little bit more intentional with your relationships and your personal time. Try new things and lead good conversations. Lean into life, rather than just taking life as it comes to you.