With my life taking a massive change of direction in the last year I’ve been struggling to figure out exactly what I want out of it now. It can seem easy to say what you think you want, but when you look more closely that thing disintegrates like something seen clearly out of the corner of your eye but invisible when you turn your head to look at it straight on. Every time I think I’ve come to some kind of conclusion that goal seems to lose substance the more I examine it. The only consistent conclusion I have come to is that I don’t know what I want and I don’t know how to determine what it is I want. It sounds self-indulgent I realize, but it’s the truth. I wish it wasn’t.
I started this blog with the idea that it would provide some fulfillment in the form of a tangible way of putting my writing out in to the world. It has allowed me to do that, but the fulfillment from it is still elusive. I’m happy with the output so far, but I don’t know what it has gotten me other than mild pleasure. Maybe that’s all I should have realistically expected. I usually enjoy writing these posts, but sometimes coming up with a topic seems like more of a chore than it’s worth. When I’m finally done I don’t usually feel that way and am happy with the product of that effort, but I’m still left with a certain amount of emptiness from it not living up to my expectations of fulfilment. And maybe that’s the lesson. Expectations of fulfillment rarely live up to what you hope for. It’s the process that matters. It seems so cliché though.
I’ve listened to many successful (in my eyes anyway) people talk about how the big thing that they always hoped for became just another thing once they achieved it. I don’t know how to deal with that. It seems to negate the point of trying to do anything. Every accomplishment just becomes one of a series of meaningless checkmarks in the boxes you designate for yourself. It becomes hard to justify the effort for that little amount of gain. Is it a matter of lying to oneself until the thing is accomplished and then doing it over and over again? I don’t know if I can do that for the rest of my life.
Before civilization there were very few accomplishments for a human being to achieve. Safety and food were about the only things to aim for and that simply meant staying alive. Did pre-civilization humans feel fulfillment or lack of it? Or is the sense of needing some kind of existential meaning to one’s life a symptom of civilization and culture? It’s interesting to consider, but I guess in the end it’s probably impossible to know for sure and I’m not sure that it would get us anywhere if we did know.
I’ve been tempted for a few years now to try to find an isolated cabin in the woods and just try to live there for a month or so. I’m not entirely sure what my goal in doing so would be, but getting away from everything typical to my life for an extended period of time seems like a good way to start figuring out what I want. I guess a Walden-style stripping away of life down to some bare minimum is what I am after. I feel as though I am dug into a rut taller than myself of which I am not able to climb out of. Maybe something like this is a way to get out, or at least to pick a path to get myself out.
None of this cabin in the woods stuff seems as though it will ultimately solve the fulfillment problem. But maybe it’s a matter of changing my perspective. Then again how many people go on some dramatic trip to find themselves only to get back and realize they are the same person in the same place as when they left? Maybe finding that out too is worthwhile. I don’t know. A lot of maybes. I don’t know most of the things that there are to know and it’s damn frustrating. The world is a big place to get lost in and I feel as lost as anyone out there.