In my last two posts, I reminded you that if you don’t know what you want, or if you live your life in service to others to the extent that you never know what you want, or if what you want isn’t really what makes you happy but rather, what gets you through the day (like “I want to organize my desk”), you may die unfulfilled. You may sleepwalk through your one precious life. What a tragedy.
HOWEVER. (Sound of self-righteous throat-clearing.)
Just a few days ago, I read a letter to an advice column from a confirmed slug:
Dear Advice Person:
Is there anything wrong with a single, childless 50-year-old whose only goal in life is to coast to retirement, having saved enough to make retirement comfortable and carefree? I keep reading about having a grand purpose in life, working in a field that you love, being creative, etc., and it just sounds like too much work to me.
I like to have good, clean fun and I don’t like to be responsible for other people. I give to charity, but I don’t want to work in a soup kitchen or be hands-on with helping others. My job is not very fulfilling, sometimes boring, but it pays well enough, and I don’t feel overwhelmed or like I can’t produce what is required of me. I get along with the people at work, and I don’t find myself dreading going to work.
Do I need to challenge myself? Do I need to set more goals? Is coasting such a bad thing?
Lynne again. Hmmm. So what I hear you saying is that my life, that of the rat on the wheel, born of some existential anxiety, may not be the norm. Maybe you don’t NEED to have a big damn goal. Maybe your life is fine just as it is, being a middling member of middle society at middle age. What’s so wrong with that, as long as you go at it consciously and are happy?
Not a darned thing. I think the important thing is to have self-knowledge, to be aware of what makes you happy and go after that. And if you do, and you have no interest in bringing clean drinking water to Africa or peace to the Middle East, I still wish you happiness. We should all be as self-aware and mature as The Coaster.