I wrote a lot since I last published anything here. I jotted down notes on physical and virtual paper–my Samsung Note devices. I started and stopped a lot of things inside my Google Drive. I didn’t write anything earth-shattering, but I did start to move in what I think is one direction for myself.
I am not sure how I would describe it. It is a direction that comes out of necessity after you get to be almost 40, and you have yet to make your mark in life. At this point in time, the people who are making their marks, from the Kardashians to the President seem caught up in an absurd pretend world that doesn’t matter to you if you didn’t get sucked completely into it before the age of 30. The pretend world of hashtags and stock prices, fantasy football scores and fashion faux pas. But also, the world of nation states and world leaders, political parties and people screaming about progress start to seem to be part of the pretend world.
Only History itself will tell us who of all these was more than just an ephemeral wad of cotton candy on a summer’s day, and actually had the meat and the bones to be worth digging up many centuries from now. I suppose you have to at least make it to the stage of national awareness before you can be a contender for being remembered by History past the first generation following your death. I am not one to say whether Kim Kardashian or Kim Jong Il will be more recognized by my grandchildren.
The direction I started to describe two paragraphs above comes from this intense feeling that I am still worth more than simply being a DNA donor, more than being an office grunt trying to shovel away enough money so that his kid will at least be able to go to a state school and not a community college, and he will at least have the fighting chance to be another office schmuck like his dad and grandfathers before him so that he isn’t living one step ahead of his landlord and the utility company.
I am worth more than this because I say I am, not necessarily because I can prove that I am. If you administered an IQ test to me, you would find me to be of slightly above average intelligence, but no real genius. If you reviewed my resume, you would be impressed if your standards were that I haven’t had to ask anyone if they wanted fries with their burger since college. But, you wouldn’t see anything remarkable enough to make you want to hire me to work at your Mountain View or Madison Avenue office among other clean, perpetually happy people who get their pictures posted on the society blogs.
Because I am worth more than simply being an office grunt and a DNA donor to a future generation, and because I say that I am, I really only have to prove this to myself, don’t I? I don’t have to prove it to God or Man or Society or History or Time or some other weighty entity of great import beyond whatever entity they say matters on today’s date. However, I am still holding myself to very high standards, therefore, what I do to prove that I am worth more must be something incredibly “big,” if merely measured in terms of its quantity.
So, the thinking has always been, that if I want to keep my brain focused on things of a grand nature, and write about big, important things, then I should never allow my brain to become too focused on any one single thing. Indeed, when I am trying to focus on a single subject for an extended period of time with the hopes that I will make this “my thing” and go back to school and get a degree in it, I lose focus after only a month or so of study. However, if I am trying to write in such a way that my writing leaps from topic to topic and avoids getting too narrowly focused on one thing, I inevitably find myself sitting here thinking of nothing but one single theme.
The other unsavory thing that tends to happen when I start trying to think big all the time, is that I unconsciously start to enlarge my ego while I am trying to enlarge my scope of thoughts. The next thing I know, I am looking down on pretty much everyone because they are too small in my petty view of things. I am completely convinced that archaeologists will dig up my skull and proclaim that I am among the first of the species that evolved past Homo Sapiens, and these archaeologists will look to Homo Sapiens the way they looked to Neanderthals. Except, I can get even more out of control than that.
It’s not that I am seeking a Godlike status, but I am seeking a path to knowledge and being that is among the most exulted of all those taken by mankind through the ages. In other words, I want to understand or at least admire the best mankind has offered in terms of great painters, mathematicians, philosophers, musicians, leaders, etc., and throw away all that is unsavory about any of them. In this pursuit, you could argue that I am hardly even close to being alone. There are plenty of people who give TED talks and create amazing startups that are trying to make humanity an exulted uber-race of beings. You could argue that I in my haphazard approach to books and the Internet am not even fit to have a conversation with the brightest minds who live in my own small Texas town. Fair enough.
Except, I would then simply ask you to look more closely at other arenas of those individuals’ lives. Are they really pursuing the creme de la creme of everything? Is the guy who founds three exceptional companies and is the darling of the business media, but fails to keep his first marriage together due to his insistence on pursuing those businesses, participating in the same pursuit that I am? Maybe. I am not trying to cast stones, but am simply questioning whether some areas of a great person’s life may be merely storefronts or shells of potentially deeper and broader self development. As far as they are concerned, that is not for me to decide, but it is for me to make sure that for myself, I am not pursuing the enrichment of one area of my own mind, body or soul (which, for me, includes householder responsibilities) at the expense of another.
There are more books on myself than I can possibly hope to read in my lifetime, and probably just as many links to books on Amazon saved in my bookmarks. Yet, I find on almost a daily basis even more books that I think will contain the magic keys to unlocking the great secrets of life. Not a single one seems to be quite live up to that billing. There are, of course, many great books out there to help me obtain a different perspective on history, reality and my own identity. Even at 38, I occasionally read one that has somewhat of an impact upon me. But, for the most part, the journey of self improvement is an internal one. It has become so non-linear and ineffable that no amount of writing can clearly capture and reflect what I am accomplishing internally on a daily basis.
But, writing can at times help me restate what my goals are, and help me re-clarify my sense of what matters in a way that a constant internal dialogue with myself cannot. Yes, it is a dialogue and not a monologue, because I make the effort to play devil’s advocate with ideas that seem to have merit, not because I am especially crazy and talk to voices in my head.