Aside from the fact that it seemed to allow me to highlight most key aspects that define our lives, the number eight also carries hopeful meanings in antiquity. In Old Testament usage, it represented new beginnings, evolution and action, all descriptors that I believe should characterize our lives at this stage.
I hope we view our lives each day as the opportunity for a new beginning, regardless of what happened in our yesterdays. That we can change and are changing, and that, we hope, is a good thing. And that we are not victims, but actors. We make a difference in our world – by choice. We embrace that as reality.
While I recognize that life does not fit so neatly into little boxes or spheres, it can be helpful to separate things from time to time and examine each in turn, and then as a whole again. That is what we have tried to do here. So, for simplicity’s sake, there is the internal man and those things outside of the man, all affecting the man day-by-day.
Let’s briefly summarize each one:
These first three are perhaps the most important streams of all as they involve the inner man. If the inner man is not ‘right’ or on the way to getting ‘more right’, then all other aspects are more distractions or substitutes than sources of fulfillment. Involves our health, mental, physical and spiritual, as well as ability to face honestly our mortality, aging and phase of life in a positive, pro-active and mature manner.
This stream is very important to most men. It is from this area we derive much of our sense of ourselves, our identity and self-worth. This need doesn’t disappear at retirement but is an ongoing aspect to a meaningful life.
This relates to being able to provide for the life we seek to live. Most of us are never quite satisfied about this aspect, seemingly always wanting a bit more. This area involves meeting financial obligations, investing, retirement, and being able to afford the life we seek.
This involves the way we live or want to live. Travel, entertainment, leisure and the general way we seek to live out our values and the quality of the life we strive for. Lifestyle is the living out of the vision we have of a ‘good life’.
We have lots of them and they have a significant impact on our lives, sometimes by choice and other times not. Spouses, ex-spouses, female and male friendships, colleagues, bosses, children and intimate relationships each have their place and influence on our lives. What that place or influence is is not always so clear.
Our connection to the world we live in and relate to. This involves our religious, social and professional affiliations that give us a sense of life purpose and meaning.
As suggested earlier, unless the inner man is healthy and well-directed, the focus on external issues will be somewhat misguided. Being mentally, physically and spiritually healthy, and growing in these areas, would seem to result in better choices in the things that make up our external world.
Of course, the external is often easier to deal with, even necessary. It seems to be the noisiest, always screaming for attention. Less so the inner man. But, it is from the inner man that contentment and sound judgment will emerge. Let's give each their proper due.