Thursday, December 27, 2012

Defining yourself

"I want to be a painter." "My dream is to play football professionally." "My passion is writing poetry." Some people choose a dream and define themselves by it. This is noble in its way, but it is often also tragic. The more specific your dream is, the more likely it is that in the end, you will end up missing your goal and feeling dissatisfied with your life.
Your life goal isn't something imposed on you from the outside.  It grows, like a plant, and it grows better the more well tended it is.  But if you pull up all the other plants that sprout up (to better tend to the one that seems healthiest at the moment) you're going to be left with a pretty barren garden if something happens to that plant.
 One way around this is trying to cultivate an interest in everything. Sure, you may not end up the best in the world at any one thing; but wherever you end up, you'll be able to find some happiness there. The nature of economy pushes us towards specialization. Maybe we should try to push back a little bit.
The wonderful thing about our minds is the way they can act on themselves. If your current situation is in conflict with your desires, you can keep trying to change your situation, and that has its own glory. But sometimes, it might be better to widen your dreams. There's a feeling that happens when you first start trying to do this, like you're betraying yourself, somehow. The hard thing to see is that the person standing in that place isn't your self.  It's just a self-portrait that you put there. It's okay to paint new portraits in new places.

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