Tammy and I talked about this a bit this evening. Living a circumstance-driven life would tend to make you feel less in control of your own life; you'd be too busy being a reactionary to take 100% responsibility for your actions and responses (which leads me to wonder about my frustrations at the UPS man, but that's another blog post). You'd probably have more than your share of drama in your life, as much of your energy would be spent putting out the fires that are inherent in merely reacting to the world around you.
There's no doubt to me that a value-driven life would be much calmer and much more my own. None of that "waking up at the end of my life to find I lived someone else's idea of what life should be" angst. Decision-making would be easier, when you come from a value-driven place. Carrying out the decision, actually acting on it, may not be any easier, but making the decision itself should be. Being value-driven means that you always have a compass, a center, to compare the path ahead of you to; it's easier to know when you're on track that way if you have a map.
But how often do I actually live in a value-driven place? Not, I'm sad to say, as often as I'd like to. More often than I care to admit (even to myself), I react rather than respond. I get caught up in the flow of schedules and to-do lists, and become a slave to daily circumstances. I long to have a life that exemplifies my personal values.
Of course, someone could make the argument that life always reflects our values -- our truest values rather than our professed values. We give time and credence to those things in our life that represent what is truly important to us. If I say I don't have time to list my gratitudes each night, what I'm really saying is that I'm not taking the time to do it; I'm not making it a priority. Instead, my husband/family/art/cats/naptime book/unwinding time/etc is more important to me than taking 30 seconds to nourish my connection to Source Energy. Ouch.
The little decisions that I make on a daily basis -- from the phone calls I chose to return to whether I eat right and get enough exercise -- are my life, and in this sense, an unwitting reflection of my values. It's this seemingly mundane collection of daily activities that really flesh out the framework built by memorable moments -- life is not made up of just the highs and lows, but rather, of all the time inbetween them. So, it's not just how well I held up through the crisis of my father's transition that is me living a value-driven life, it's how I respond to life in the moments when no one (maybe not even myself) is watching ...
I know that I have mixed my verb tenses and gotten sloppy about point-of-view, but I'm thinking off the top of my head. I'm having an idea that I can't quite verbalize because it's late and I'm tired. That, and the fact that I just don't think as well as I used to; I'm just not as smart as I used to be, it seems. It feels like I'm dancing all around my point, but I can't quite see it. Maybe things will be clearer by the light of day.