Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

I have been preoccupied with one particular thought lately:  what do I really want to do with my life?  No idea.  Keep coming up with zero.  Or a million things.  All at the same time.   Ironic, really, that after establishing what the outside world views as a successful career,  chosen only after my quarter-life crisis, which itself came after dabbling in various jobs and careers after college, I'm still not sure what I want to do. Shouldn't I know that by now?  And if I missed it this badly before, how can I be sure that I won't shoot for something else and still not hit on what IT really is.

So, I read.  And think.  Nearly all of the million or so books and articles on the topic (it's a common concern, apparently) ask the question, "what would you do if you knew you could not fail"?  Other forms include: "what would you do if you won the lottery" and "what would you do if you didn't have to answer to anyone else".  I was able to come up with an answer to the second question -- I know that if I won the lottery, I would drop everything, travel around the world, invite my loved ones to join me in various countries, and write about it.  Somehow amid the lottery winnings, I would also gain the ability to write without blinding, body-binding anxiety, so it would all work out.  But only tonight in doing exercises for another book did I realize that my answer to the first question is the same.  My escape fantasy, at least as expressed through the majority of books I read, is doing exactly that -- dropping everything to do an all-consuming, big year-long exciting project -- some exciting task, travel, re-do your house, make something, do it big -- and then write about it.   The writing about it, is, I thought, the way that I justify the larger project because it could make money.  But if I won the lottery, why would I need more money?  The writing serves a larger purpose.  It's informing others about what I did -- sharing the human experience.  It's inspiring others to pursue their dreams. It's sharing my knowledge and experiences, so that they can learn from my mistakes. It's teaching.  It's also legitimizing the big project itself.  I can't travel or create just for myself (so says the psyche) but I can if it has a larger purpose.

I think the fantasy is still so seductive because I'm young and carefree, at least in relation to where I will be later.  I feel like my years of being able to entertain such ideas are passing me by, quickly.  I'm already too tied down, with a husband, condo, golden retriever, parents, in-laws and career that wouldn't understand their being left behind.  Or am I?  Perhaps they would be more understanding than I give them credit for.  Like everything in life, I bet they would surprise me.