Sometimes I have to go on a tirade in order to untangle my thoughts properly, so bear with me here; or skip to another article if you’d like. As some wise sage once said,
“Thoughts untangle themselves when they pass through the lips and fingertips.”
So let’s talk about settling.
Have you ever thought to yourself, in those existential moments that tend to present themselves during some event that removes us from our regular routine,
“Why am I doing what I am doing?”
Or, in one further degree of separation, “Why do we do the things we do? And who decides these things?”
Who decides what fashion piece will stick with the general populous? Who decides that a new Mercedes is the badge of success? Who decides that in order to get a ‘good job’, you have to attend a ‘good university’? Who decides that the standard template of life is school, college, get a job, get married, start a family, work 45 years, then retire to the courses and cabanas in Florida?
Who decides the expectations of our lives?
“Nobody – that is, no one person – decides these things,” you say, “They just are the way they are.”
That’s the scary part. If nobody is designing this blueprint that we all seem to be following, then where is it exactly that we are going? Right away this signals that eternal caution that, in reality, we are no more aware of these things than a sheep who, with a jolly smile looking at and gaiting towards the distant green hill, not realizing the ledge just ahead, steps right off the cliff. Kerplunk.
The reality is, everyone around us is more or less aimlessly wandering through life – scrapping for the same things and realizing the same mistakes. Everyone is chasing the cash, the likes, the status, the perfect perception, the recognition. It’s what we talk about (although cryptically) in our free time. It’s what we think about in our time alone.
And this seemingly-universal predisposition is more powerful than we think.
It’s the force that drives most (if not all) of our decisions – what school we choose, whether we choose to go to school at all, what clothes we buy, what food we eat, what posts we post, when we swipe our credit cards, when to speak, what to say, what to do. But this is just the instructions on the back of the same bottle from which we are all drinking. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. The same things for the same people at the same time, all the time. We are caught in the wide, barely-moving current of mediocrity.
And every now and then, in those moments of divine resuscitation, we see our decisions almost from a distance and scratch our heads in wonder as to why we chose to do those things. Were there other options available at the time of those decisions? Why didn’t I choose them? Are there other options available to me now? Can I choose them?
And here is where we strike a chord.
Because, once you get to this point of realization – that there may be another way of doing things – life around you veers slightly left. Other realities begin to emerge. You can almost consciously pause the pull towards the norm and simultaneously begin to hear the chimes beckoning you beyond the bell curve to something greater. Because there is something greater – something outside of the “same old, same old”, the “usual”, the “ready for the weekend.” Something outside of the paycheck, promotion, and popularity that dangles as the Great Carrot before us – always just beyond human reach.
As one of the most intelligent minds once highlighted,
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Like a rocket must counter with great force the immense pull of gravity, so too must we decisively thrust through the pull of Common Tendency. Only then will we reach that infinite frontier through which we were destined to venture. And looking back, we will then realize that this too, this new realm of possibility and purpose, was also always at work somewhere inside of us. Even amidst our doldrum days of indifference, the coordinates mapped into our hearts were quietly prompting us through the noise of traffic and towards the greater destination.
Shed the less. More awaits.