Do you ever feel like your days are being nibbled away by chipmunks? My days seem to disappear in hundreds of tiny bites. [Read more…]
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.
Recently, I wrote this: “…sometimes I think I am foolish for racing around with my hair on fire in pursuit of this passion, because I am 56…”
Do you wonder sometimes if you should stop trying so hard? Are we Boomers of an age where we should relax, nap, read, take more heed of the passing days ? Perspective is such a hard thing to grasp. My mom is 85 and says, “Oh, Lynne, you’re so young yet!” To see it from that angle makes me feel like lacing up my running shoes. But then on the other hand, how many years will I have to enjoy my sweet husband, to travel, golf, and just sit and read, maybe go to a movie with him? He’s 63. Per his family history, he’s got 20 years. That’s probably 15 of good health. Right now we’re in good shape, but who knows? And every minute I spend in my office pecking away at this keyboard is a minute I lose with him, forever.
I got a boost from Sly Stallone, who was interviewed in Time Magazine. The interviewer asks “Are there any more goals you wish to accomplish?” and Stallone replies, “There are always goals. If you don’t have a mountain, build one and then climb it. And after you climb it, build another one; otherwise you start to flatline in your life. People think retiring is fun. Well, maybe, but if you have a certain kind of fire inside, there is no end in sight.”
It doesn’t solve my dilemma but it does make me feel better about my ambition. Yo, Rocky, thanks!
Elana Johnson, writer and teacher, has figured out her own way of allocating social networking time here. She says we have to make up our minds, because time is finite. Have a goal, and then decide how much time you’re going to spend on which SN sites to reach that goal. Her system is too simple for me, but she’s way more accomplished than I am, so what the hey.
Frances Flynn Thorsen, who I’ll quote in my next post, said something smart about it: pick a few SN sites in which to “go deep”. That’s a good idea, and I’m paying attention right now as I flit from SN flower to flower, as random as ever. Soon I hope to pick the SN sites where I’ll spend the most time, and the ones that I only check maybe every third day. Do you have an idea about this? Let us know.