It occurred to me recently that the philosophy I have been cultivating for the past few years—one that has left me immeasurably happier than any prior time in my life—has come with a certain drawback.
I have developed a philosophy of choice predicated on an absence of expectation. Give up on the desire for an outcome. Make decisions. React to the things that happen and take accountability for yourself and how you choose to move forward. It has simplified life and given me the opportunity to declare myself “arguably, the happiest person in the world.”
Some people have told me that my new outlook is particularly “Buddhist.” I can’t entirely disagree, though I feel some urge to fight the suggestion. I find myself at peace. I accept every day and every moment as it comes to me. I don’t get angry (or if I do I don’t appear to), I do laugh and smile often (even at things that I “shouldn’t), but I don’t get excited for things.
The last one is the only problem I see and leads to my aforementioned “drawback.” I no longer desire anything. I have no goals. No ambition. No purpose. There are things I enjoy and… more common now… things that I do because I once enjoyed them or because it makes me appear “normal” to enjoy them.
I used to be a man with goals, dreams, aspirations, and pursuits. Now I just live day to day. Happy, yes, but I feel empty. I thought that the emptiness would be satisfying, but it isn’t. It is just empty. I find myself missing the person that I was who wanted something. Who set goals and worked hard for them. I miss being a person who wanted something. I miss it only because it was a part of me for so long that it being absent has left me feeling apart from myself.
In my reflections and introspection I realized that my previous goal setting wasn’t a true reflection of myself. I was, instead, trying to prove a point. I was challenging the expectations other people had for me. It became my mission to prove other people wrong; to impress people; to conquer my weaknesses publicly. I chose my path to show people that I wasn’t who they thought I was… even when that led me to defy the person who I really was.
Shame of it is that I was able to accomplish a lot using that backwards source of motivation.
Now I want nothing. I want for nothing. I just am. I just do.
I believe in my philosophy. It makes sense. It simplifies everything. It leaves me happy.
I just don’t feel fulfilled.
That’s painfully human of me I suppose. All I wished for, for years, was happiness. Every shooting star. Every birthday candle. Every 11:11. Every wish for 20 years has been for “happiness.” I have it in great abundance, and I am yet unfulfilled. Happiness and fulfillment are not one and the same I have come to understand. So I am left with the choice to change, adjust, sacrifice, or destroy my philosophy—the one that has given me this life-altering happiness—or to adhere to my belief system unwaveringly and risk living a life that will remain ultimately unfulfilled and unmotivated.
Humanity and complication or mediocrity and peace.
I left my old life behind because I was experiencing ennui. I felt as though I was not accomplishing all that I could with the life I had. I no longer feel that sense of ennui. This is something far less painful, but far more pervasive.
Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag ten (or more) friends, including me, so I’ll see…
1) Tarzan of the Apes (Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912)
2) Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (Bruce Coville, 1991)
3) Dragon Wing: The Death Gate Cycle, Volume 1 (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, 1990)
4) Life of Pi (Yann Martel, 2001)
5) A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini, 2007)
6) Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective (Donald J Sobol, 1963)
7) 1421: The Year China Discovered America (Gavin Menzies, 2002)
8) Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton, 1990)
9) The Wheel of Time (Carlos Castaneda, 1998)
10) The Sneetches and Other Stories (Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, 1961)