We each have been given a gift - our own life - and a choice in how we lead it.
In an interview with Alicia Silverstone on her new book "The Kind Diet" via the team over at Brownble, Alicia mentions that the English word 'diet', in medieval times, meant a day's journey or a day's work.
I really like that.
A day's journey.
Just one day.
Typically we are so trained to plan ahead, to strategise, to think forward, to chase after a future arrival point - our end goal. This can be a good thing. Definitely! I love strategy. I majored in strategy (like, actually). 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail' - that saying is drilled into me. And honestly, it does seem to be true to a huge extent.
But there is also a lot of value within a single day - a single day's journey.
In a single day, we make decisions that reposition our life's trajectory, subtle shifts that see our end destination change dramatically no matter what our goals may have been. These decisions also shift the trajectory of those close to us, those far from us, and those we will never know - humans and creatures and our very planet itself - one giant complex ecosystem.
We make those decisions through the words we say, the things we buy, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the things we like on Instagram, the people we chose to do life with, and all the activities we give our 'no-returns' hours and minutes to. A day can demonstrate a lot about our true heart.
So, a little etymology (because, I am nerdy, and love such things). The English word 'diet' originally meant one of three things:
1. 'a meeting or assembly'
2. 'habitually taken food and drink'
3. 'a way of living'
This English 'diet' came from the medieval Latin 'dieta' which meant a particular meeting or assembly, but also was used to mean a day's journey, a day's work, or a day's wage. The word 'dies' in Latin means 'day', which helps to make sense of how this meaning came about. This second meaning, of a day's journey or a day's work or a day's wage, is what Alicia was referring to in the interview I mentioned above.
But before the Romans, there were the Greeks. And in true My Big Fat Greek Wedding style, the English word stems from a Latin word, which in turn stems from an ancient Greek word... This ancient Greek word 'diaitia' meant 'manner of living', which in turn was based upon 'diaitan' which means 'to arbitrate, govern, lead one's life'.
Why all this Latin and Greek?
Good question. Well, aside from me wanting to share my etymological gems with you, these meanings culminated in a thought in my brain.
I lead my own life, I arbitrate it, I govern it. I know I may not control what happens to me or around me, but certainly, I have self-control. We each have been given a gift - our own life - and a choice in how we lead it. And so every day through our individual decisions we tell a story about who we are, what we believe, what we deeply desire and where we are headed. But if we are telling a story every day about who we are - what is our story saying?
These decisions set our feet on the trajectory to our end destination, which may not necessarily be the same as our end goal, and may not actually align with who we deeply want and understand ourselves to be.
I'd love to think I'm A, B, or C, and I'm headed towards X, Y, or Z. But, sadly, while I might make some good decisions that reflect who I think I am or to reach my future goals, many of my everyday decisions do not reflect my future goals and dreams, or worse, they often do not even reflect the values, convictions, and beliefs that I say I hold to as a person.
As a result, (as far as I can see right now), I need to do one of two things:
1. Accept an incoherence between my values and my actions, in essence - that I'm not being who I think or say I am. And then resign myself to that lack of connection between professed ideal and enacted reality. Urgh.
2. Or, as above, accept the incoherence, but then CHOOSE something different, choose to transform the decisions in my day's journey. Choose a way of living that actually aligns with my deeply held values and convictions. Do this today whenever I remember, for every decision, every action, every word I speak - and then tomorrow, choose to take this same approach.
We can dream, plan, scheme, pray, hope for and work towards our end goals - and we can work these backwards into smaller, even daily goals, for us to hit - and that is good and smart and strategic... and definitely an important way to work towards those big long-term goals we hold!
Goals Goals Goals
But despite our best efforts, we may betray ourselves - if we don't also look at our day's journey and choose to transform the decisions we make.
Our daily life indicates who we truly are. By intentionally leading our own life every day, addressing our decisions and making change where we see it is needed - we can live more authentically as who we deeply know we are able to be and want to be.
I have decided to look at my everyday decisions with fresh eyes. I want to discover how I am genuinely leading my life, and accept the incoherences, not make excuses, and choose to lead my life, every day. I don't want to go with the tide of 'that's how I've always done it', 'that's how I've always thought about it', 'that's just normal', and 'that's just how it is'. Instead, I will be openly looking at the ramifications of my decisions:
What do my decisions mean for others?
What do my decisions mean for our planet, for our world?
What do my decisions say about me and what I stand for?
I'm embarking on a journey to lead my own life, to actively engage in my day's journey and to bring transformation in my decisions wherever I see it is needed.
It's a journey towards greater authenticity.
It's a journey to discover a new way of living that I believe will be better for me, better for others, and better for our world.
We have been given a gift, our own life, and the ability to choose how we lead it. Every day holds countless opportunities for the transformation our own self, our own life's trajectory and the trajectory of the people and planet we are interconnected with.
Hence, Diaitan - lead your life, daily.
Actress, activist and author Alicia Silverstone. (n.d.). Brownble. Retrieved from https://www.brownble.com/videos-1
Merriam-Webster Inc. (1991). The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories (1st ed.). Springfield: Merriam-Webster.