What do you want? Tuesday June 26, 2007, 7 comments

Seriously. What do you want out of life?

Sail around the world, live on a boat? Be a beach bum? Drop off the corporate ladder and sell paintings in some tourist trap? Busk in Paris? Backpack from Paris to Hong Kong?

All these things sound exotic and interesting, and some people really do get out there and actually do it. They step away from the norms of society and blaze their own trail, and in general, we praise their courage.

In general.

But not in the specific. In the specific, those people are probably dealing with a lot of criticism. When he calls from Provence, worried mothers ask their busker son if he’s ever going to grow up, come back and get a job, like normal people. Friends and fathers worry about that artist in cottage country – how is she going to heat her run-down shack when the season ends and the snow replaces Bermuda shorts and sun hats?

We pay lip service to the general concept, but societal inertia stops us from following our hearts. Time and again, the elderly tell us to follow our hearts, to live and explore and dream and be ourselves. To hell with the worry and criticism. Go do your own thing. After all, you’re the only one who has to wake up every morning and live your life. And time and again, we ignore this most true, most profound, most heartfelt advice and trade our dreams for a shinier car that doesn’t get us to the job we really don’t like any faster in rush hour traffic.

It’s a tired old saw, but its tired because its so true. Think you’ll lay on your deathbed and wish you had worked more? Got just one more promotion? Had a house with one more toilet to scrub?

If you could remove all the filters, operate without fear of criticism of your actions, what would you aspire to? What would you do, if you no longer had to worry about how others would judge you?


Josh Tuesday June 26, 2007

This is one of the best blog posts I’ve read in a while. Well done.

In answer to your question: I’d teach at a university level, probably history. I’d go to Germany for a few years to become fluent in the language. I’d poke around in all of the languages I find of interest, whether it was economically “beneficial” or not. I’d start a Buddhist meditation center and help the community out through it.

Papalaz Tuesday June 26, 2007

I’m doing it – we left high powered, high status jobs in London and are now living out in Crete on a lavender farm – and trust me it was a great move to make

Adrian Tuesday June 26, 2007

Paps, well done!


what’s stopping you, really? Those sound like really amazing things to do.

Dug Tuesday June 26, 2007

I’ve never really worried how other people judge me. Does that mean I’m living my dream?

Jorge Tuesday June 26, 2007

I’m with Dug.

My problem isn’t social judgement. It’s affording food.


Sumedh Tuesday June 26, 2007

hmmm…very, very, luckily, though, my parents are quite understanding and have finally understood my deep passion for classical music. So they are being quite supportive of me. [I play the violin. Just dream of getting into one of those darned orchestras.]

But, otherwise, I am really someone who tries not to get bogged down by society and people’s opinions. As you yourself have quoted Stephen P. Jobs on the left :)

Excellent post, by the bye…

Nils Wednesday June 27, 2007

I’m not sure I ever wanted any of those things. Perhaps we mistake doing what we want with what is considered being ‘free’.

These days, everybody lives in cottages in the South tending crops or selling beads. It’s become as much as a rat race (“haven’t you packed and left yet?”) as just doing a job, enjoying it and seeing a film at the weekend.

I think what matters is how you interact with the people around you, even if that’s the guy stuck in traffic next to you.

But great post indeed.

Commenting has ended for this post, but I'd still love to hear from you.

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If I had known I was going to live to 100, I'd have taken up violin at 60.”
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