Ambitions and Weekends
Every now and then a deeply primal urge tugs at my heart—it coaxes me to look away from the "world” and run away. I never dwell on the feeling; my logical side quickly hammers it back into the place in my head where I keep all the other ideas labeled "unfeasible”. A moment’s scrutiny reminds me that I am part of the world, and no matter where I go I am still in that world.
What brings on that feeling? I’m sure that it is a common feeling in many others. Maybe it is good to explore this feeling from time to time as a way to better understand ourselves.
For me, the feeling creates a mental picture of some remote island or distant wilderness where I can spend my days gathering food, exploring local fauna and living more peacefully. For others, I am sure, the fantasy world is more luxurious—perhaps a rich lifestyle in a leisurely resort with daily spas, massages and wine. While the two ideas may seem totally different, they share a common thread—absence of worry about the regular toils of everyday life: mortgages and rent; bosses and clients; commercials, propaganda and politics… all the things bombarding the average American’s life. I say American, since I am not sure that most other people of the world share the same set of stressful stimuli; for many the stresses are much more primal—praying for rain and averting famine and disease consume many non-Western societies.
I have a feeling that the urge to "Get Away” is encoded into the human genome. It is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it drives innovation and exploration. Because of it we, as a species, constantly expand our knowledge of the world around us with science; we reach out and explore new worlds that ever expand the distance the collective race can view; we unleash new powers and technologies that increase the potential that minds and hands can reach.
But with it is the curse that we cannot explain: the same urge that makes us want more, to explore more, to see what is around the next corner or what new thing we can make is the same monster that blinds us to what we have. We cannot be satisfied with what we have. The beauty of what is in our arms is overshadowed by what could be ours. Each time we crest a hill, we are only momentarily satisfied with the view—we see the next ridge and think it must hold something that is better than the present.
Looking at myself, I see how this feeling creates irony and apparent contradictions. I have spent so many years of my life trying to collect the tools and skills to freely work on various creative projects. Now I have those tools and skills… and instead of being satisfied… I want other things. I grew up with very little money; I always thought that I could do so much more once I had a computer—which was true… but the anticipated satisfaction did not last for long. The satisfaction of having a computer was dimmed by the desire to have expensive software; acquiring expensive software was not enough to outweigh the want for faster computers… etc.
The pursuit of these tools and skills has led me to the point where I desire the more quiet, peaceful life mentioned earlier. The irony is that were I to walk away from the life I have for that peaceful one described… I would very likely end up in the same place—soon filling with malcontent and dreaming to getting back to the world of computers, technology, internet and change.
The lesson is the same in almost all arenas, whether in personal ambitions, personal relationships or business.
For me, the agonies of this paradox in personal psychology are not giant issues; I have been aware of this internal part of humanity most of my cognizant life. I deal with it in a Stoic fashion, accepting it as a part of life as I accept growing pains, canker soars and aging. But I can see how it cripples some people that are not able to develop so-called meta-cognitive skills—techniques to think about yourself abstractly and analytically. I think that too many people suffer from an inability of being self aware—and that it leads to so many of the heart aches that grip humanity from personal all the way to global levels. A person who cannot see his own paradoxes but is led by them blindly is very much like a chicken that has just lost its head; a whole world full of such people is the recipe for chicken soup without a soul.
Balance is important. That is why weekends and vacations are so important. Not to mention self meditation and self humor.