All my life I’ve tried to be practical, to do the right thing, to be sensible, to think about the future and to be efficient with my time and money.
Went to school, got the degree, got a good job, got married, had children, played safe, saved for the future, got life insurance and even built a pension. All that is great, it’s sensible and it’s rational…until it isn’t.
Nowadays I wonder what would my life would have been had I followed a different path. What if I had followed my passion instead of “doing the right thing”?
I know, I know, you’ve heard this before, it sounds a bit day-dreamy, a bit self-helpy and unrealistic. But at the same time you can ask yourself: “What do I have to lose?” Safety? Comfort? Predictability? Is it reasonable to live a life you are not happy with just to please others? Who are these others anyway? Do they care about you pleasing them? Is it all worth it?
Too many questions but only one answer:
Live the life you were meant to live
Don’t do anything just because is sensible
Don’t do anything based on fear
Don’t do anything for validation
Don’t do anything for credentials
Don’t do anything out of guilt
Don’t do anything to look consistent
Don’t do anything for peer pressure
Don’t do anything to keep up with the Joneses
Don’t do anything to show off
Don’t do anything out of pressure
Don’t do anything to avoid loosing face
Do things because:
You really think is what you want
You want to experiment
You are afraid of doing them
You want to grow
You want to feel alive
You are truly meant to do it
You want to know your potential
You want to grow
This might sound to you like irresponsible advice but it is not. What it’s irresponsible is what common sense dictates: To live a below par life, to have meaningless relationships, to pretend everything is normal, to work in a job you hate, to buy a house you can’t afford and pay for it for 30 years, to stay trapped in a loveless marriage, to raise children that resent you because all along they could feel you are a fake, to invest a lot in your pension and then lose the money every time the market crush, to retire broke and then die because you can’t take this anymore.
Does this sound sensible to you? Can you relate to the above? Are you going to do anything about it or are you going to rationalize it?
When I talk to people about this I get the following reactions:
“Oh, you are bitter, your life must be sad, my life is not like that!” Denial and defensiveness
“Well you know, it’s not that bad, I watch Netflix, have a drink with my mates, go on vacation twice a year, etc” Escapism, attachment to the superficial, focusing on distractions.
“You have to be realistic, you have bills to pay…” Conformism. You pay bills for stuff you don’t like because you bought shit you didn’t need in order to fill a vacuum you created by living an empty life.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Henry David Thoreau
A lot of people realize early that life is shit. Then they try to do something to find some meaning — They become hedonists, start a family, become religious, support a football team or a political party.
All these are but desperate attempts to cling on to meaning, to find a little hook to quiet the desperation that life delivers on a daily basis.
Life is a shit cake and everyday you eat a piece.
There is nothing wrong per se with these pursuits, providing they are genuine and not just a random attempt to fill your life with just anything.
Years ago I was told by a friend: “ If you don’t like your life, you might as well have children” That resonated in my head for quite some time. I wasn’t planning on following the advice (although in the end I did) but it made me wonder about the motivations of people when it comes to take really important decisions in life. I realized that often we play by ear, we take the default option, it seems to be a stream pushing us in a certain direction and it’s difficult to swim upstream. You are supposed to do it, so you do it, that’s it.
But don’t get me wrong, having children is an amazing act of generosity. You sacrifice a lot for them and you love them a lot but at the same time you feel forced to carry on with this charade of life and everything goes south rather quickly. Not always, not for everybody but all too often, unfortunately.
So, what is the answer?
The answer is to do whatever you want, be selfish, don’t worry about the reward and don’t be afraid of failure, embarrassment or risk.
Only by doing that you will achieve truly remarkable things because passion is the fuel that can take you far, far away. Don’t just go through the motions, grab the bull by the horns and live life in your own terms. You’ll be surprised of how much you can achieve by living your life without fear and by doing everything you always wanted to do. Time will stop, you’ll be stuck in an eternal now, past and future will fade away and that is the place were you are meant to be.
But how can you pursue your mission in life if you don’t know what it is?
For that you’ll have to read my next post. Sorry about the cliffhanger.