Do Anything You Want, But Not Everything (Young Man)
I read that line somewhere a while ago, and it really struck a chord with me. Not an entirely sad one, but it certainly disconnected me from what I was reading and got me thinking.
A few days after my thirty-second birthday, time does seem to be speeding up. 2015 went by in flash. Everyone seems to be having kids. I’m probably past the threshold of calling myself a young man too – so in fact I may as well.
You know that feeling of being tugged in ten different directions at once, often by yourself? Trying to do everything. It’s difficult to relax with thoughts rolling around up there like tomorrow’s not coming, making and breaking alliances like the proverbial underpants in a tumbledryer.
Trying New Stuff
It’s great trying out new things. The satisfaction of getting to that level of proficiency in something new before the little dictator in your head allows or orders us to move on to the next thing. The little bastard. Sometimes I’m not ready to graduate and he still orders me onto something else.
We all probably have a little dictator bastard in our heads. He’s ‘normal’.
He likes to complicate things, not simplify them. Which is again possibly part of the reason I am writing this blog. I’m looking to understand my own tendency to want to complicate things, and our global tendency towards increased complexity. Investigate making space for natural complexity and getting rid of the crap.
Polymaths like Benjamin Franklin or Leonardo Da Vinci are ones to admire, not just for their myriad contributions to society at the time, but the genuine love for life that their work espoused. They insisted on staying fascinated with it all – LIFE – that complicated, weaving, multi-dimensional, confusing, exciting puzzle.
There is something addictive about broadening horizons, growing, learning, whatever. Whatever that means to you. That feeling of growth is surely one of the main tenets of being a happy human.
It’s a challenge though, especially when you recognise the tendency to want to do lots of stuff at once. If I don’t get to keep things fresh, I get grumpy and restless. It happens in the space of minutes too. I recognise that it is a privilege to be in a position to grump over such things.
I came across Puttylike many moons ago and signed up there recently. I am really enjoying the people and the experience so far, even if I haven’t had that much time to invest in it. Emilie Wapnick’s TEDx talk about not having a singular calling in life is well worth checking out.
Connecting the dots between interests is key to it all. Forming a loosely-coupled, yet strong web.
The community in PuttyLike reminds me that there are lots of people who get into this kind of juggling funk from time to time. Everyone does to some extent, there’s just so many balls to pick from these days, served at the touch of a button.
There is a symbiosis between doing something for the sake of doing it and learning to live simply too. The latter creates space for the former, and all other interests. They are related through a kind of trust and quiet purpose, that the thing is worth pursuing for itself’s sake, and nothing more.
Add in the financial and material gains afterwards.
But start simple.
I am reminded of the Thoreau’s thoughts on creation for the sake of it, and his view on creating and selling:
I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth anyone’s while to buy them. Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, instead of studying how to make it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them – Henry David Thoreau
The freedom that comes with such a realisation is exciting, and that freedom is supported in many ways by simple living. I think it can be applied to the act of creating anything, including the life you want, at any age.
Taking cue from that
the fickle inner beast shall not be tamed by joy or sorrow
but moved in simple days’ time
in space created
left to roar and roam, along the path
of places it knows
it has never been
but feels it is creating.