Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Were We Born To Do?

Look, I think it's a legitimate question. Somewhere between the ages of 18 and 36 (adjust accordingly depending on your culture) you realize there is a maddening tension that has been set in the heart of your existence: Life is more enjoyable when you are enjoying yourself, but enjoying yourself does not tend to pay the bills.

So what are we to do? Should we pursue a life of pleasure? Definitely a noble pursuit, but sooner rather than later the flies begin dropping into the ointment. For most of us, enjoying life tends to involve forging a meaningful romantic relationship. But to do this requires you to sacrifice some of your freedom, what you heretofore defined as one of the great joys in your life. But the sacrifice is worth it, we often think.

And down the road of increasing obligation we do joyfully bound.

It's a trade off. The fun loving bachelor life doesn't go on forever. That image is charming in your early 20s, and grows increasingly sad as your numbers climb into the 30s and beyond.

Choices get made; they invariably result in more debt to your name (or to your matrimonial union, depending on how you choose to structure yourself, tax wise). Out of necessity you grow eerily practical--how can you make more money?

You do the things that put the bread on the table, but lucky is the man who finds his joy and his work one and the same. Most seem to plink away at their mop or their keyboard or their assorted trade, wishing they were enjoying themselves more.

Which is more noble? Are you being more true to yourself to do whatever pleases you? Or is it the higher thing to sacrifice your pleasures to make a living and a way for all who depend on you, and in so doing perhaps find a deeper, more satisfying joy? Or is there still a third way? Is it the proper thing to not cease striving until your joy and your duty become one and the same?

I've made my choices and I more than stand by them. I was scared to death to marry my wife; it took a long time to muster the courage to commit to the leap. The only nervousness that I now feel about the choice is the scary idea that I might have chosen differently--I hate to wonder how my life would have turned out if I had gone in another direction.

But acceptance of where you are doesn't mean where you are is exactly where you should be. Do we sacrifice hope for reality, or should we always be striving for the better concoction? Is ambition the cure to our ills, or the ill that needs curing?

I'm doing what I was born to do--which seems for all the world to be wondering what it is I was born to do.

No comments: