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On The Merits of Responsible Living

February 17, 2013

As most people who know me realize, I have a strong distaste for responsibility. But it’s not as though I hate responsibility or don’t see any merit to it, it’s more an issue of freedom- you see, I’ve found that the more responsible I become with my life, the more limited I become with what I can do with it. I hate being limited, so I tend to avoid responsibility as if it were a great evil, because up until now, I’ve seen the “responsible life” as the death of my youth, vitality, and individual freedom. So long as I’m irresponsible, I’m not tied down to any particular direction, and I’m not limited to any given values or priorities. I can do what I want freely and without limitation or structure.

But while this might work well for one who has not found values to embrace, people to love, a future to build on, and indeed I met this criteria perfectly for most of my life, I have come to a point where I have found someone to love and live for, I must embrace the values necessary for her to be happy, and for us to be happy together- and for us to be together, it is necessary to forge a future for us, and build on that foundation until our happiness is complete.

The principle merits of responsible living deal with love, and with building relationships, families, futures, societies on. Whereas freedom is necessary for creativity to spring forth, responsibility is necessary for what is created to be appreciated. It’s one thing to create something wonderful, beautiful, amazing– but to make that something productive, appreciable, real— it requires some degree of responsibility, in order that mere expression can be honed and refined into art. Responsibility is the proactive structuring, standardizing, planning, and ritualizing of reality that makes self-actualization possible.

Normally, I tend to do and say everything without thinking, wishing to communicate my raw, unfiltered self without being biased by the real or perceived consequences or my words and actions. While this has worked well when I had nothing and no one to live for, It has become increasingly important (to my surprise) as I find my unfiltered expression threatening the health of my relationships, and particularly that of my love. To preserve the well-being of the values and people I care for, Carefully deciding what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to, must become an important consideration for me.

Prior to my engagement to be married, it didn’t matter how much money I made, or the stability of my income, because I knew I would always find a way to subsist regardless. I’ve been homeless, and lived off of food bank food and soup kitchens, and know how to survive regardless of the circumstances. But now that I have a future wife to support and care for, and ensure her happiness and well-being, things have become a lot more complicated. In the interests of our life together, I need to become financially responsible, get a stable job with enough income for us to live comfortably, learn to budget money reasonably and consistently, and invest my income conservatively and efficiently. 

Whereas before I was content with a rather random lifestyle, only doing hygiene, cleaning my room, or caring about my dress when I felt like it, I have recently realized how vital it is for me to live my daily life structured, clean, and disciplined. In order to ensure a healthy equilibrium for our married life, and particularly for our future kids, it is necessary for me to live life more “civilized” and with more self-respect than I’m accustomed to.

Finally, responsibility has become essential for me because without it, I would take the people I love for granted, even the one I love most. When life is a chaotic mess of liberation, sure there’s a lot of options to choose from, and everything feels so much more colorful, open-ended and free, but it’s difficult to focus and appreciate any of it, or to realize the things and people you care about most. When you limit your range of focus through responsible living, it allows you to zero in on the things, people, and values that really matter to you- that’s the real beauty of responsibility!

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