Going Toward the Thing

What do you want? What are you striving for? Is it stuff? Security? The good buzz in the body that comes from a day of outdoor work or exercise? The freedom to feel bodily exhaustion at the end of the day and sit down to your Netflix with a steak, some sauteed greens, and red wine?

This last is a big driver for me and I’m not sure that’s good. I have a wife. We’re raising a child. I have two large and wonderful and very demanding dogs. Oh, and I have perpetual existential ennui. In a recent conversation/interview with a therapist I expressed it thusly: “The 20th. year of my mid-life crisis.” The exercise, the cold shower, the good food, and the relaxation provided by the superlative entertainment that surrounds us, that miraculously lives in every square micro-inch of our omnipresent “devices,” seems to be the apex/objective of most of my days. How many else of you out there feel this and perhaps apprehend it as problematic, in spite of the palpable daily desire to achieve it?

Jackson Browne: “I wanna be a happy idiot, and struggle for the legal tender.”

John Cougar Mellencamp: “Go to work in some high rise and vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico”

How to summarize the thought? It’s the nagging feeling that nearly everything one does intends to achieve this momentary respite, that the daily work of earning a living has an intrinsic value that’s less than what it can buy. For me, the latter is the aforementioned routine of r&r. For others it may be toys? vacations? Perhaps the gist is the fear that one’s vocation is not inherently meaningful. Or perhaps it’s somewhat meaningful but not meaningful enough. That it somehow doesn’t quite cut it.

No matter how I spend my day–and my days are pretty diverse, given that my other life objective has been to never work a “regular” job–I have to admit that the looked-for moment, the one that justifies whatever else I may have done, is the ritual described above. And it’s nice. It’s always nice and I like it, but more and more I want to have the “thing”–the feeling of having a vocation that may or may not make money but drives you regardless, the skill you can share with the world that also brings you to yourself.

If you find it or you already have it, does this mean that it’s what you strive for every day? That it’s what gives you your daily buzz? What connects you to realms beyond the interior mind space? What brings you to the divine? If you feel like you’ve found it consider yourself blessed. I have my ideas about what it may be for me, but after 20 or so years of thinking about it, it remains elusive yet, leaving me the daily solace of sustenance and the thousands of selections of something to watch.

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