Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

All Or Nothing?

The question was posed:  is it more dangerous to want everything or nothing?

I think desiring everything can be an indication of ambition, if what you want is intangible.  Failure to narrow down these aspirations make one the proverbial “Jack of all Trades,  and Master of None.”  Those of us with this issue of course refer to ourselves as “Renaissance” persons.  It sounds better.

I had no goals in high school.  Except to survive.

Desire for things is a  symptom of the commercialization fed to us every day; we are bombarded:  ads on TV, ads online, the lure of a glistening store.

The sellers know, the more we are dissatisfied with ourselves, the more we are likely to buy a product.  “If I just bought this wrinkle cream, I would look younger and more desirable.”  “If I bought this treadmill, I would lose weight and be sexy.”  It is human nature to desire to improve, fit in, and of course, find a “better” mate.  And society has persuaded us, tragically, that this results from conspicuous consumption, not from internal change.

Desiring many things can also indicate greediness, addiction, hoarding issues, and narcissicism,  where people may spend more than they can afford, landing themselves in debt and jeopardizing their family’s finances.

I confess, I do want everything. Things.  In my case, I want to improve my looks, and to fit in with my peer groups, and I have definite packrat tendencies.  I love to shop, and sometimes I engage in retail therapy.  I shop when I feel bad, I shop when I feel good, I shop because I love to bring home piles of lovely things to add to my treasure troves of clothing, art and jewelry supplies, books, stationery, eclectic decorating items.  My interests are wide.  And since high school, I have harbored the conviction that the more “cool” things I have, the safer from criticism and ostracism I will be.

Wanting no material things; that’s good.  We could use more asceticism in life.  A simple life is examined and confident.

But wanting nothing; that can be scarier still.  I realized one day, a few years back, that despite hoarding my precious supplies of material things, that I have no goals left.

I had a goal to go to college; I finished with a whopper GPA .  Check.  Next goal: have fun.  Did that in spades.  Overdid that.  Next stop, medical school.  Made straight A’s my first two years, and nearly that the second two.  Check.  Next stop, residency.  Chose a specialty and spend a grueling 4 years training, being hazed, overworked and psychologically abused.  Survived it, and I never let them see me cry.  Check, check, check, check.

I bought the car of my dreams, a Porsche Carrera, after graduating.   Goal met.  I wanted to get married.  Finally met and married my husband at the ripe old age of 35.  Goal met.  We wanted children, and I produced a daughter with frightening speed.

And one day, I woke up and I realized there was nothing left.  All those life goals, done.  What else is there?   What do I want now?  What life achievement is out there?

I’ve given this a fair bit of thought.

Many aspire for grandchildren, which would be nice, but it is not a goal for me.

I want to make more friends.  I guess that’s sort of a goal.

I’d like to simplify my life by divesting myself of these possessions.  But I don’t really want to.

I want to improve my jewelry techniques and make selling my work more of a career and less of a hobby.  It’s a dream I cannot realize, since the loss of income would be unacceptable. That would be a goal, but it is inconveniently imaginary.

I want to get in better shape, but do I really?  I abhor gyms; they bore me, and I don’t go.  Must not be much of a goal, if I’m not doing anything about it..

I would like to write a book.  It may or may not happen.  I know I do have one in me.  It’s probably the only true goal I have left.

What I really want is to quit my job.  Scarcely a positive move.

Not wanting anything is an abyss you stare into.  There is nothing at the bottom of it, at the end of it.  In essence, life is over.  I feel I should just cede what’s left to the next generation.

Not wanting is the end of the road.  It brings on an unsurmountable depression.  I am reminded always of Peggy Lee’s song “Is That All There Is?”  I learned it as a kid, but didn’t realize the sadness and truth in it until I was older.

If you want material things, at least you are alive in a small way.  You are moving toward something, persuading yourself that amassing collections is a vital “hobby”.

I’ve always felt I want too many tangible things, but that never gave me this sinking feeling that there is nothing left to achieve.  That is a special kind of hell.  A bottomless pit.  And when hope is gone, that is a very, very dangerous thing.  A person with nothing to lose is a disaster waiting to happen.

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4 thoughts on “All Or Nothing?

  1. I think we should all get the chance for contract options once per decade. To be able to start something new or try a new field. I just wish it were subsidized:). Most of us can’t go backward, financially. And yet, we all end up missing the beginner’s mind.

    • I think that’s very wisely said. The Beginner’s Mind – that’s a lovely name for that feeling, and probably the reason that as we get older, we develop new hobbies and take classes if we have spare time. If.

  2. I’ve never been much of a hoarder or collector of items. I don’t like to shop, in fact I dread it. However, learning… I covet. I remember as a child right before my teen years being very sad at this imagined world library and all the books I would never have time to read, even if I never accomplished anything else other than doing bare necessities beyond reading. All that knowledge that’s there for the taking, but the inability to consume it all… so disheartening.
    I still find it easy to discover new things to be passionate in learning about, I don’t think I’ll ever be bored of it.
    However, I will say I have been in your shoes before even with the high, never ending goal of “learning as much as I can”, where the Jack & Diane song resonated deeply with me– “Life moves on… long after the thrill of living is gone.” I was pretty depressed. When I realized the truth of the song, I felt this huge weight descend upon me, suffocating me with more depression and disappointment in life as it was versus what I thought it would be as a child. This is really it??? Why had no one told me life wasn’t worth living, if this is what there is after all this busting ass to get to this point? I couldn’t find any satisfaction to soothe the level of unhappiness I had found myself in. I have to convey to you that where you are emotionally and mentally is a dark, awful place that many people find themselves in, but it does pass. The source of my unhappiness resolved with a bit of work and lots of thought, reflection, and decisions to move forward with what I “thought” would be the right direction. I did not feel energy or passion to do it, but only went through the motions to get it done. I’m so glad I found the strength to do that, as I find today that I am happier than I have been my entire life. I feel like bursting with gratitude some days. It took a few years to make it to this point, but it was immediate that things were starting to get better once I made a change. After the experience I realize too with a bit of disappointment that this cycle will repeat and I never know when the bottom will fall out again. But at the very least, I know things will continue to cycle this way, some seasons longer and shorter, until death. And I’m stronger now to weather it all, because I now know the truth and wisdom in the words of “this too, shall pass.”
    You feel that the source of your current state of dissatisfaction is a lack of goals. But what is the ultimate goal of life? Maybe we all answer that differently. At the very core of that answer, my goal would be to enjoy life. I feel like I enjoy it at least a little every day. If you think your core goal is also to enjoy life, then all these other goals you’ve set up are only stepping stones that you thought were accomplishing that one goal were a big farce. What is the very best thing in life? It’s certainly not things—they fade, break, disappoint. Its experiences that make us feel lucky to be alive.
    Confront the problem in your life that is keeping you so tied up that you can’t enjoy life at all. Doing all the things that you have done, you’ve worked plenty hard and it sounds like you’re working even harder now. Dreams turned to ashes—why work so hard for so long and yet have nothing in front of you beyond working more, with less enjoyment? You do have a new goal, to find the way to enjoy life more and be miserable less. If quitting your job is the answer, find a way to make it happen. Make a gradual plan and move that way. Whether its closing your office 3 days a week, or hiring someone to work those 3 days and completely making yourself unavailable. If you deliver babies, stop it. So you don’t have to be on call. Set a date to stop accepting maternity visits and finish out only the current mom’s to be that you have. Tell your husband how freakin’ miserable you are in a language he can hear~ they’re bad at getting the gist of things and each one seems to have their own dialect of Martian, but you’ve been married long enough that if you plan right you can probably verbally convey how important this is to you. He will help you figure out how to plan for the decrease in income that you will experience. Once you start moving in the perceived “right” direction, you will have some of the emotional fog lifted and you will be able to see better what will help you become happier.
    I feel like I’ve done nothing but rambled, but maybe something here will help you feel at least a little better or get your mind into a different gear. I enjoy reading your blog, and I wish you happy holidays with your family, even though I’m not religious this time of year fills me with much hope and enjoyment and I sincerely wish for you to have some peace of heart ❤ .

    • Thanks. I think my best plan would be to live in the present and not sweat the past or the future. There are a lot of things I like to do, and one of my goals is definitely making time to do some of them.

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