I typed out the following last Monday on my phone as my son fell asleep for a nap in our hotel room in Monterey and just before I fell asleep, too. Tami and Ana were back at the aquarium playing with the Vogel family.
I'm facing an interesting philosophical fork in the developmental road of myself. At the end of one path is a great and famous me. Maybe a president or planet savior or quajllionare. Something. At the end of the other path is a contented old man just like so many others of humanity who have and will come with a good life full in experience with an eye towards the good more than any bad. I don't think that both paths are necessarily available to me but I do think I want to be on one of them.
The first path just isn't likely to happen. But I still find myself asking if that is ok, if I accept this as not likely, if I can let go. I suspect the drive to get that feeling of satisfaction from standout greatness is a genetic one evolved to help our species. I suppose that it is important for our species to have that drive ready should it be needed so that an individual will grab for the brass ring and save the community, lead the tribe, and live in glory should the need arise. The role of such a leader needs to be fulfilled. Like so many genetic motivations it doesn't always need to be fulfilled in all times and by all people but that is how the body works; it keeps the genetic motivation. Sometimes we are scared of a cave that can't hurt us or we have sex though we don't intend to make a baby. In the case of a desire for greatness and fame, I suspect it is that drive that makes for great books about heroes and kids playing at being a hero. I suppose it's possible that factors will align so that I will need to change course, grab for the brass ring, and make the toss for glory and fame. But the odds for any individual are slim and mine are surely becoming slimmer, significantly committed to my 30's as I am. But it's weird. Is it ok not to look for a cave to challenge?
At the end of the other path is a contented adult, pleased with the experience, with eye on the memories that are sun rises, sunsets, a quajillion snapshots of his children, goodness, a life well lived, an existence to be proud of. It feels good to think of this. I think of my Nina Irene. I think of nameless humans throughout our time on Earth. I think of a Buddhist archeologist discovering the remains and evidence of such lives.
I certainly don't want to live a life with a depressed wish for another life. I don't want to be on one path thinking constantly of another. So I am innately drawn to each of these paths. Only one is likely and only one is available for me to choose now and I like my option. I suppose the ambitious will say otherwise but I think that I have so much of what I want and, anyway....
Today I was contemplating all of this. And I thought, I have this life. I have these beautiful kids, this beautiful wife, these experiences, these skills,this knowledge, these opportunities. I choose this. I want this. I choose this life. I want to live the long satisfied life of one who is grateful for what they have, common to history, with an eye towards the good and an awareness of the full scope of life's ups and downs. I choose to live a good life.
I did still hear that question, is it ok to let go of the Great Ambition? I think yes. But should the background music ever present itself perhaps I will dodge the billion dangers and pull the lever to save humanity, achieving the impossible. Otherwise, I'll keep living this good life.
A strategy tested. For the last several weeks I have been starting my day, and or taking moments out of my day, to think about what is good in my life. I just think about good things for a few minutes. I praise efforts to do good things without thinking of failures or overall problems. That's it. So it often includes statements like: I have a good wife as a partner, my kids are beautiful people and healthy, we live in a good neighborhood, I have a good job, yesterday I walked by donuts all morning and three times I didn't even take one, it is a beautiful day today, Ana gave me an extra big hug this morning with a big kiss and smile, I got to give Enzo a little kiss before I left when he was sleeping happily, I feel good right now.
I don't let myself think about negatives or let my mind wonder off during that short time. I don't qualify positives such as thinking about my weight or the donuts I did eat, I jut praise the times I didn't eat the donut, for example. Just a few moments of the positives each day and sometimes a few times throughout the day. The cool thing is that this little practice seems to be making me a happier person overall. I've had days at work recently as exhausting or challenging as very rough days in my memory and, the days are the same but I feel better and happier despite the challenges. My attitude is improved and I feel good but I also feel better and I like it.