We saw the movie, “Gravity” last night. Cate commented after:
“Space exploration is a waste of money. How do Sandra Bullock’s (or Captain Kirk’s) personal epiphanies and discoveries really benefit Earth and are their “great stories” really worth the cost?”
It brought up for me one of life’s greatest questions. Why should we “boldly go where no one has gone before?” Why do we feel the need to do anything extraordinary with our lives? Why are many of us so driven by our mission? We “explore strange new worlds” to learn, to improve, to grow. But what’s in it for others?
There is an innate desire in people to do something important and meaningful with the lives we’ve been given. For some, the dreams die in childhood, while others are driven to achieve big things to the very last breath of their lives. Where does this desire come from? And what is it that happens along the way, which interferes with our dreams? At some point we find a way to stop beating ourselves up and accept our lives as they are. Sadly, those who can’t find this balance, don’t usually make it to old age. If they do, they are usually not quick to describe themselves as happy.
How do we reconcile our ambition with our desire for happiness? Where’s the balance between having and wanting? In our constitution it mentions only our right to the “Pursuit of Happiness.” Ambition is a desire to have something we don’t currently have, which we feel we expect and deserve once we have “paid our dues.” Then, once we have “made it” we believe then we will enjoy happiness. This recipe for unhappiness is widely referred to as “The American Dream.”
There is another way. I have worked as a coach and mentor to many artists over the years, who wanted to become professionals. One of the first things I ask them is ” Why do you want to be an artist? What is burning inside you that needs to be said?” These tough questions form the impetus to not only create their artist statement but their life mission.
The first response to these questions goes something like, “because I enjoy making art.” But why? What is it you enjoy about it? Is it for something larger than just your personal satisfaction? Does it have to be?
If your answer to the above questions is about having fame and fortune then you may be in it for self-serving reasons and you will likely be disappointed. But more power to you. Someone has to be the Golden Child; why not you?
If, on the other hand, your answer to these questions involve a desire to find truth and beauty, then you are likely not just in it for yourself. Because we all want these things. These are global values and their pursuit is a lofty purpose. Even more power to you.