Sunday Firesides: Build Your Life Upon Multiple Pillars of Support | The Art of Manliness

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The project of building your life can profitably be compared to the construction of an edifice.

When its architecture is held up by only one or two “pillars,” these columns are forced to bear far more stress than they were made to sustain. For example, a marriage becomes strained and unhealthy when one’s spouse is relied on as one’s sole source of friendship, entertainment, and affirmation. The pressure of placing almost all of one’s needs on a single area or person often ironically destroys the very good it could have given, if approached with more proportional expectations.

Even if we don’t demolish life’s structural pillars ourselves, external circumstances outside our control will inevitably cause them to crack and crumble. And then woe to the individual who had rested their entire life upon them. The man whose whole identity is tied up in his work, becomes adrift and despondent when he’s laid off. The guy who stops hanging out with his buddies to spend every waking minute with his girlfriend, finds himself devoid of a social network when the relationship breaks up. The parent whose existence revolves around their children, feels as if they’ve lost an appendage upon becoming an empty nester.

Jobs change. Or end. Family members move. Or die. Friends disappoint. Even a strong faith waxes and wanes. If your entire purpose and identity rests on just one or two such pillars, when the vicissitudes of life undermine their structural integrity, the entire building will come crashing down.

Necessary it is, then, to construct the architecture of your life around multiple pillars of support – to buttress your sense of self and sanity with varied, well-distributed sources of interest, emotional sustenance, and meaning. Then, when the ground shakes, and one pillar crumbles, the others can take up the weight, and the edifice shall still stand.