The SeaI was listening to a review of an upcoming “Mad Men” episode when I thought of the book  “Heart Aroused.” Poet David Whyte’s masterpiece, “The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America” aimed at helping people find meaning and balance in their careers. There is a one-line poem in his book previously mentioned that forced me to reassess my professional goals:

“Ten years ago, I turned my head for a moment and it became my life.”

Truthfully, I sit writing this missive in the middle of a corporate HR meeting, whose sole purpose is to discuss assessing interpersonal dynamics and how to create wonderfully beautiful functioning teams. And I grant to each of you, that for this moment, I am unaware of the next question, then next word, the next PowerPoint slide. For none of this matters.

I ponder upon how much time was spent pursuing the money, the vulture of the corporate world. All the wasted dollars, time and energy collecting and spending for the “good” of my career, I have lived and breathed the hype and succumbed to varied products, including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC and others. And to what end? Was it all a sacrifice on the altar of life, where I traded off priorities for a lucrative salary, long commutes, long work weeks and a plethora of other things.

When I look past the jumbo mortgage paid completely two weeks ago, I sat in my overused easy chair, the sullen early morning light of a rain soaked day silently confirmed my auto-pilot life was not always in the best interest of those who loved me. Similar to that of a friend who passed in late November, I never really knew them and likewise, they never knew me.

“Does this represent who I am?”

Whyte also wrote, “Work is the very fire where we are baked to perfection, and like the master of the fire itself, we add the essential ingredient and fulfillment when we walk into the flames ourselves and fuel the transformation of ordinary, everyday forms into the exquisite and the rare.”

As I near the “great beyond,” I wonder if my worked baked all to perfection or just me. Then again, maybe neither. Could I have used the essential ingredients and fulfilled others or lived a lie. And did I live a life that became exquisite and rare? Undoubtedly, many would state no.

Accordingly, as a Buddhist, can one find peace in a truthful life or does one surrender to the lies? Some say Buddhism focuses on the unhappy side of life or takes a pessimistic view? This may be because there is an extreme focus upon suffering. However, this is only one side of the story.

I would like to say that by focusing on suffering, I am somehow actually committed to realizing and developing happiness. In fact, there are many kinds of happiness which are both true and lasting. There can be some form of contentment, freedom of enjoyment, debtlessness and happiness from being good.

But I believe it is a choice we must be willing to make. Are we living a truthful life or surrendering to lies?