Lately I just can’t seem to shake a nagging feeling that there may be more to life than just running.
I came across an interesting article last week written by Charles Eisenstein, and while I’m not sure I agree with everything he says, I definitely think the man is onto something.
The unspoken goal of modern life seems to be to live as long and as comfortably as possible, to minimize risk and to maximize security. We see this priority in the educational system, which tries to train us to be “competitive” so that we can “make a living”. We see it in the medical system, where the goal of prolonging life trumps any consideration of whether, sometimes, the time has come to die. We see it in our economic system, which assumes that all people are motivated by “rational self-interest”, defined in terms of money, associated with security and survival. (And have you ever thought about the phrase “the cost of living”?) We are supposed to be practical, not idealistic; we are supposed to put work before play. Ask someone why she stays in a job she hates, and as often as not the answer is, “For the health insurance.” In other words, we stay in jobs that leave us feeling dead in order to gain the assurance of staying alive. When we choose health insurance over passion, we are choosing survival over life.
The article offers an interesting way of looking at how we are living our lives.
I’ve never been motivated by money. Working at a job I hate to buy things I don’t care about and don’t want has never made any sense to me.
But, if my goal in life is not to buy the best car and biggest house I possibly can, what is my goal?
To be happy?
Is that selfish?
Not any more selfish than making money to buy things is. But is it any better?
I can’t help but wonder if all of my “injuries” of late have been my subconscious trying to tell me that training like a mad woman for race after race isn’t getting me any closer to finding meaningful purpose in life.
Interestingly, while I was in the middle of writing this post, Erica D. House (who I follow on twitter) posted a link to a blog post she had written a few years ago, which seemed to go hand in hand with the “Mutiny of the Soul” article by Eisenstein that I was trying to write about.
In the post, she shows a graph from her Human Growth and Development textbook that illustrates the answers given by college students about what they value most in life. According to the chart, in 1966, 85% of the students polled said that developing a meaningful philosophy about life was essential. Only about 40% felt that way about being very well off financially. By 2006, those values had switched: 70% said being very well off financially was essential and less than half felt that way about developing a meaningful philosophy about life.
As a society, we seem to be headed in the wrong direction.
But what can I do to make my life more meaningful?
Well, I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve got a few ideas. I’m hoping to put some of those ideas into action. I’ll be sharing them with you in a new category of posts which I’m calling “Simplicity and Meaning.”