It’s my birthday tomorrow. While I don’t necessarily dread being another year older, I find that I have a hard time getting excited about this milestone. 27 is not a particularly exciting birthday and I have thought back about how far I have come since I turned 26 and the answer was disappointing. Not to say I have been slacking off the whole time; I did make some headway in this obstacle course called life:
-graduated with a B.A. in History (finally)
-got my firearm possession/acquisition license and my pistol
-was accepted into an M.A. program at Royal Military College
-made a lot of positive lifestyle changes => eating & exercise habits
Still, I can’t help but dwell on what I perceive as my inadequacies; the things I have yet to do or have not even come close to doing. But I have a bad feeling that the things which I have yet to do may still not give me the satisfaction I crave. It seems like I spend all my time in pursuit of various goals and once I achieve them they are not as fulfilling as I hoped they would be.
Is this what success all about? A bunch of niggas actin like bitches with big mouths?
What do I think of success? It sucks; too much stress…
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
While these quotations, pertaining to fame and fortune, don’t directly deal with my specific situation and achievements, they do convey a disillusionment that comes with success. I can only imagine that the disillusionment is proportionate to the success in some way. However, I don’t deceive myself into thinking that the rich are necessarily unhappy i.e. the old adage that “It is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable.” In fact, I am sure there are a great many happy, wealthy persons. I think the problem is that a greater ability to purchase and consume has nothing to do with happiness, and a wealthy person trying to find happiness in material possessions is on a fool’s errand. Conversely, someone who is poor does not necessarily have a better chance at happiness simply because they have been deprived the means to consume without limit. They have other impediments to their contentment, like basic survival for example.
“I’d rather be rich and unhappy than broke and miserable”
-A far more apt dichotomy I should think
Apply this same line of reasoning to achievement and not wealth, and a similar pattern emerges. If there was lasting happiness to be had in achievement, accomplished people would quit while they were ahead. Instead, happiness is fleeting and must be constantly pursued. It seems that the more you do in the pursuit of happiness/contentment/satisfaction, the more you need to do.
And it gets no better for the unaccomplished (sic) either; prior to going to Afghanistan I sorely wanted to be one of those guys in my regiment who was idolized by the younger privates and corporals. I felt very inadequate for not having done a tour of duty. I couldn’t even conceive of how a term of service overseas could not be the be all and end all of my life. Now I have been there and done that (thankfully unscathed) and I feel no different. The adulation of teenage boys has done less for my self-esteem than you might think. What I realized is: You don’t actually need any of your achievements, but you have to achieve them to realize how little you need them. (apologies if I have stated this before in a previous entry)
So, armed with this hard-earned knowledge of how fleeting the satisfaction of achievement is, what do I intend to do? Why, “follow old Obi-Wan” as it were.
Translation: Go on “some damned-fool idealistic crusade”
I know that hitch-hiking around the world won’t bring me all of the happiness to be had in life. In fact, the chances are very good that it may cause me some stress afterwards as I struggle to get my life back on track and deal with how the people I know have changed or moved on. I worry that some opportunistic young soul may try to woo the woman I love while she is at her most vulnerable; missing my companionship. I understand that I may miss births and deaths and I will feel sharp pangs of loneliness around holidays particularly. I accept this because it is preferable to the alternative: dying slow, or what you might call day to day life.
I’m starting to think happiness can go fuck itself. Perhaps there is a benefit to my being perpetually dissatisfied, or at least a reason for it. (inb4: whiny bitch) Dissatisfaction more than anything has accelerated what drives me
. If I was perpetually happy, well there would be no reason for me to leave the house would there? So, with this in mind I am resolved to move forward in pursuit of this elusive jackalope called happiness.
This is Chad the jackalope; Happiness is his brother
And even if I don’t catch it, at least I have achieved something.