In western culture, we are supposed to be ambitious about getting rich, owning a bigger house, more cars, maybe a private jet. Affluence and possessions are the focal points of the aims we’re expected to have. Power and affluence are part of the mix. Those of us who fail to be super-rich are to stay envious and striving. Alongside this we tend to prioritise romance and child rearing – and if you aren’t inclined to parenting, that tends not to be treated with respect. The majority of us are set up to fail, and will, if we go along with this, spend our lives chasing after ever more money, never able to be satisfied by what we have.
One of the reasons for following a spiritual path is that it allows a different set of priorities. You don’t have to be rich to be spiritual – many traditions suggest that an obsession with worldly wealth will only get in your way. Many religions are focused on what you have to do to get to a better life after this one – codes of behaviour and service to deity tend to define this. We don’t have that in Druidry, so what kind of life goals should, or could a Druid be interested in?
Life long learning seems an obvious one to me. Not the absorption of sterile facts, but a quest for deeper understanding. A desire to know, to experience and to cultivate deeper empathy is something you can explore in any circumstances, and the rewards are many. Learning adds interest to life, and allows us to see more than the surfaces in front of us. The kind of learning that cultivates wisdom and encourages flexible, rather than rigid ways of thinking, is, I would suggest, an ongoing, satisfying and happily infinite thing for a Druid to pursue. Learning creative and practical skills, and bardic learning would also be part of this.
Cultivating virtues. Paganism tends towards virtue-led ethics. It’s an interesting process figuring out what you see as virtue, and then deciding how to actively cultivate those virtues in your life. At the moment I’d list patience, persistence, generosity and laziness as the virtues I most wish to work with. I think in our over busy, over worked, over acquisitive culture, laziness can be a very powerful virtue indeed. This list will change over time.
Cultivating relationships – with people, with the land, and sky, with the history in the landscape, with the wildlife and the spirits of place, with the ancestors… the list is vast. To know, to care, to be engaged… again these things confer ongoing benefits and you’ll never run out of things to explore.
Seeking happiness and the good life. Making time to figure out what a good life is from your perspective, having the scope to live life on your own terms, setting out to enjoy life day to day rather than always striving after distant goals. One of the great strengths of the life goals I’ve offered is that they bring delight and richness from the moment you start. There’s no pouring energy unhappily into effort for years in the hopes it pays off in the end – which is at the heart of your standard western practice of making affluence a life goal. You aren’t waiting to start living, you’re living already if you’re inclined to live a good life right now with what you have.
What are your requirements for a good life? What kind of goals do you have at the moment?