Sunday, July 5, 2009

Let me sing these songs of freedom... but not right now

Determined far past a fault into a virtue and past that into... something, something, obscure pop-culture reference... I continue my experiment with living in the moment.

But to be truthful, this has to do with more than living in the moment. Intertwined with an out-of-moment perspective has always been me looking forward and back with my hopes and ambitions. Just as important an element of this experiment has been living without my usual grand ambitions. Essentially, for the moment I've tried to scale down my thoughts and maybe consider normal ambitions, and a normal life, and in particular the path that was set out for me at birth.

Get a good paying job
Get a wife
Have kids
Do family stuff

It's not a bad life by any means, and it is certainly one I'd recommend for many people and even many of my friends. It certainly beats drinking till your liver explodes and you're too much of a drunken slob to be any sort of husband/wife or father/mother. Sadly I worry about some of my friends on that path.

But the perhaps advantage of living in the moment and without grand ambitions, is that you just accept those sort of sad things. They are out of your control, yes, but more importantly they are outside your sphere of activity, maybe (although with helping friends kick a bad habit... but then that depends how strong and close the friendships are (I'm not sure I have that many friends that are that close)).

So that is the experiment. There were elements of weariness, and even spite that compelled me to try living this way, but I find that is far too little justification for turning my entire life upside down like this (in terms of activity my life has changed very little, but this has in fact turned my life upside down because one's experience of life is determined by one's perspective and that perspective has been heavily inverted). And if I am doing this just to avoid the costs of my grand ambitions, the recurring failures, despite the fact that most of the grandness of the ambition is internal, and the worry, and the anxiety and the obligations... well, that's a bit of a burden, but not so much as losing your parents, or taking care of a child, or any number of other experiences other people go through, and it is certainly less of an obligation than a cross. So essentially I would be sinning then.

But the core reason (at least this is what I'm telling myself, hopefully truthfully) for this experiment is to see if the ambitious path is right for me. Or perhaps a more humble one, or rather since part of my ambition is too be more humble, a more simple one. That is to say, ought I live in the moment, or live with the future often on my mind? Should I concentrate and find joy in the small things, or should I connect even the small things with the big picture and find joy and direction through that? I have often grappled with this choice, and dabbled with both sides, but largely chose the path of larger ambitions than smaller ones. However, there is something to be said that you can't judge a life until you've lived it, and the life of smaller ambitions I admit is not without merits... and my life of larger ambition is not without faults, many of which have been very clear of late.

In the end though, this is not about which path I find more happy moments on, but rather which path is the one God wants for me. Or in more secular terms, which path is my real purpose on. Perhaps the answer to that question will not come within the next 3 days (I was going to have this for another week but I realized that certain problems would arise if I decided to go back to larger ambitions and then dived straight into a rather busy weekend), but I think overall this experiment has given me some valuable food for thought so far, and probably the next few days will as well. Even if I do go back to living ambitiously, I think I've learned at least some useful techniques. And if it turns out my life is more correct in smaller terms, well...

In the end, one must do what is right, or at least try to, the best he can.

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