Thursday, March 26, 2015

What I Aspire To

When I lived in Oregon, my big material ambition was to own a farm. I wanted some land so I could live off it. A huge garden, a few animals for meat, milk and cheese. More and more I've come to value the idea that where the food come from matters. I thought it would be awesome to live that out.

I was after a lifestyle.

Now I live in Panama City, in what is best described as a suburb of mansions (I live in the basement of one). My job places me in an extremely rich subset of what is otherwise a relatively poor country. I've seen more Porches and Ferrari's than I ever have in my life. Audi's are as ubiquitous as Honda Civics back home. And suddenly I found myself wanting an Audi. If everyone else had one, why couldn't I? 

I was after a status symbol. 

That reoccurring desire to drive those 4 interlinked circles led me to diagnose a very odd stage in my life. Discontent. I am making more money than I ever had, but am surrounded by people who make a whole lot more.

All my life I've read about wealthy people who weren't satisfied, and thought, "that'd never be me." One article in particular stood out, it chronicled the travails of Wall Street employees trying to get by on only $1-3 million a year, which isn't enough apparently when you're renting a fancy Manhattan apartment, send their kids to private school, have a beach house and do all that other stuff rich people on the East Coast do (I'm not entirely sure what they do).

It became apparent to me that never being satisfied is a danger inherent in the human condition. Alexander the Great conquered the whole world he knew, but still wanted to conquer India before his troops refused to go any further. Millionaires look up to multimillionaires who look up to billionaires who look up to Bill Gates. There is always someone with more. 

It surprised me to find I'd been doing that too in my own little microcosm.

Part of it no doubt is my setting and the people I'm surrounded by. Also, by and large my life is missing the small moments of bliss that I had every day in Oregon. Playing fetch with dog in the field, driving to work past vineyards, watching eagles pull fish out of the lake just five minutes from my house. I miss that. 

Without some diligence, the rat race is a very easy thing to fall into. Maybe it's more like a hamster wheel, you just spin and spin and spin chasing something that you'll never obtain, unless you're Bill Gates. And even the Bill Gateses of the world figured that whatever they had isn't worth keeping so they're giving it all away. 

The best things are life in priceless, I've always believed. Hopefully by refocusing on creating and recognizing those little moments of bliss, I'll find some better object for my aspirations,    

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