“…nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose…” Mary Shelly Frankenstein.
Well doesn’t this just sum up teenage angst and middle-aged crisis in one concise sentence.
How often when we’re young do we feel as though what we’re doing is irrelevant to our happiness most often because we feel like we’re being forced by society or worse yet by our parents to do “what we’re supposed to do.” School is boring. Our friends are stupid. Our parents don’t “get” us. And all we want to do is sleep because sleep gives us respite from what we feel.
But if given a purpose (especially if we think this purpose is of our own making) a soccer game to win, a dance recital to perform, an academic hoop to jump through for example, our mind is quieted if even for a moment. Purpose distracts us from our angst. Small feelings of accomplishment, working towards something of importance. Sometimes not that it matters, when we get there, but feeling somewhat content during the process.
I see this often in my students. A purpose found, be it the determination of a career, a diploma to be had, a truck to be bought or something as simple as writing a poem. Contentment found in purpose.
But in those that are given everything, where there is an expectation rather than a goal to be completed independently, there most often is unsettledness and frustration. Angst with an unfulfilled misguided sense of entitlement.
Nearing middle-aged (gasp!!) when we attempt to evaluate what we’ve actually accomplished so far in life, we often stew and make knee jerk responses and throw stones without considering the ripple effect on those around us. We’re hyperventilating because we have yet to climb mountains or cure cancer or make our million. What would a change of purpose bring? What would a creation of a purpose that is more tangible than abstract mean to those of us who think in grandiose and immeasurable amounts?
Gee, I dunno. Maybe a sense of control over what seems like many threads bowing in the wind getting into one big angry tangle. A change of perspective giving a more focused sense of direction.
Or a least a direction to drift towards instead of an aimlessly floating in the firmament called life.
Been “here”. This was good. Now what? What can I do with what I’ve done? Build upon it? Or be proud of what has been accomplished and move on to something else?
Dreams when pursued, not necessarily achieved are more than a sense of purpose, but rather, are a sedative for a restless mind.
Dreams and a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.