Good morning Tash Appreciators,
When we’re young – let’s say between the ages of 15 and 18 – we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up. We’re usually then told to take that notion and pursue it for the rest of our lives on the basis that we’re following our dreams by doing so.
I can see the logic of that in some respects. After all, when we’re young we tend not to be encumbered with cynicism or, put another way, a sense of reality. I used to be very interested in the idea of pipe dreams and whether it was naive to pursue them. I ended up spending a few months putting that to the test.
The evidence I found suggested that pipe dreams weren’t pipe dreams at all – they were just aspirations that we hadn’t quite reached yet. I found that we tend to be limited by barriers of our own making rather than impossibility.
On that basis, I could tell you that if you want something badly enough then you can achieve it. I could go on to say that if you find something impossible then you’re simply not working hard enough.
But that’s not life, is it – it’s not that simple.
I’m not persuaded that the aspirations we have when we’re 15 or 18 become impossible in later life. Maybe we realise that we have developed different aspirations as we get older. We might say that our old aspirations have become impossible as a way of getting ourselves off the hook for not pursuing our childhood dream.
Even that’s too simple though. Sometimes, we do everything possible to achieve what we want and we still don’t manage to get where we want to be. I don’t have any explanation for that other than the truism that life isn’t fair.
It doesn’t seem satisfactory for TF to simply say that life isn’t fair and that sometimes we won’t achieve what we want. This week’s Tash, Friedrich Nietzsche, said:
“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
In the same way that we shouldn’t wait for something to happen before we engage with life, we also shouldn’t let something which has happened hold us back. Our lives do not stop the moment that something unfair happens or when we don’t reach a goal which we set ourselves. Life carries on regardless.
If we spend too much time gazing into an abyss of disappointment or wrestling with the inner monsters which tell us that we have failed, then we risk being overcome by disappointment or a sense of failure. The only answer is to not dwell for too long on perceived failure or disappointment and to press on with whatever comes next.
It’s also worth remembering, in the same way that what we wanted when we were 18 might not be what we want now, that our aspirations will continue to change and there will be another target at which we can aim and gain satisfaction. As we talked about last week, life is full of pivotal moments and we have to pivot with them. We may not always perceive what life throws at us as being “fair” but we can choose how we react and whether we move forward.
The difficulty which so many of us find is in freeing ourselves from our inner monsters and avoiding the gaze of the abyss. I’ll offer a view on that in Part 3.
Have a great weekend folks!