09/22/04: simple goals

Last night John and I went to Burma Superstar (whose brown logo with gold-ish flourishes were very reiminiscent of a certain brown album cover with a similar name). In the course of conversation, I found myself saying that I couldn't think of anything worse than realizing you were married to an idiot. But later I thought that yes, while that would suck, it would certainly be fixable. The ultimate torture for me would be to realize that I missed out on something magical because I just sat there and did nothing.

I would rather die regretting something I did rather than regretting having not done something.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about goals.

I remembered a few months ago some folks on LiveJournal were posting about goals, so I dug up those posts for inspiration. One poster said this, and I paraphrase to protect the innocent:
Why do I have all of this stuff? What does it mean? Why is all of this krap around me so important? I want to read, walk, drink some coffee, talk to friends, laugh with at least 5 people and hug someone tomorrow. I want to tell everyone who might know someone that I need another job. Those are my giant goals. Hopefully I can reach them.

Another person said this (again, paraphrased):
I lack Goals to drive me: life goals, career goals, art goals, fitness goals, family goals. So what drives me? I have very vague, fuzzy goals that do not give me much direction; mainly: Deadlines. Avoiding pain. Pursuing Joy. Spending time with friends.

We are mostly early/mid-thirties unmarried people searching for that elusive something, whether it be a house, a spouse, a car, the perfect burger... as if some day we're going to wake up and go, "Sweet Jesus! Look! I finally achieved X and am now complete."

I have married friends who are financially very comfortable, wise, healthy, funny and expressing themselves artistically to great success, some with kids and some without... and they haven't found the something either.   You know why? I think it's a figment of our collective imaginations. I don't think it exists.

I know I keep revisiting this quote: My 7th grade Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Peterkin, said, "If you learn nothing else in this class, learn this one phrase and remember it until your dying day: Human wants are insatiable."   It's a good reminder to know that you will never be entirely happy because it's not human nature to be. So stop beating yourself up already. You are human, and this is one of the flaws in our basic programming. As sure as Windows will crash, you will never be entirely satisfied. Accept it. You'll be happier in the long run.

I think if you're prone to depression, it's either because you are actually a very hopeful person who is consistently let down, or because you've given up trying to be inspired.

So yeah, over the years I've created and completed goals for myself: Graduate college, leave New Jersey, learn to play the mandolin, start a new life in Arizona, collaborate with talented/educated musicians, leave Arizona, create a venue for local musicians / singers / songwriters to do their thang in a supportive and cool environment, buy a piano, get a handle on my health as nobody can do it for me(I can change my fate even if my mother's health stinks), pay my taxes, don't bounce checks, meet a nice boy or two, nurture relationships with people I care for, sever ties with those who weigh me down or breed negativity, get a good job and get out of debt, try not to be an asshole.

Am I satisfied? Who knows. Do I want a Mini Cooper? Sure. Would it make me "happy"? Probably for 20 minutes or so. Did I achieve "happiness" when I checked off the items above? Sure, again for 20 minutes or so. I still reap the benefits of, say, my health for example, but has it solved any global issues? Nope. I mean, I won't get diabetes now, but I could still get into a flaming Amphibicar accident.

Am I done setting goals? Of course not.

And what if I don't meet a goal? Or, what if my priorities change? Or, what if something happens which alters my path?   I get through it. That's a goal unto itself: get through it.

I don't have to build the next space shuttle, I don't need to have future generations remembering my name. My contribution to the planet is in the small things... if I can connect to people through music, if I can better myself, if I can convince someone that it's all good, if I can be somewhere and feel needed and loved without having to make excuses for myself and others, if I can feel satisfied that I did my best job in whatever I did that day (even if it's buying a box of mini-wheats), if I can smile from the core of my being and let someone else feel that love, then I am satisfied.

I don't know about you, but when I'm dead, I want the people around me to say, "Jill was joyful, generous and kind, and she made people smile. She made me feel important and loved." I don't give a shit if I started a coffeehouse, lost a million pounds or joined N*Sync and got to walk on the moon. All of that is unimportant if I'm not connecting. I think Burning Man helped reinforce that. That one day I was on my own at the temple, experiencing art on the playa, talking to random people and genuinely understanding them, man, that's the shizzle. And I like to think that, even though it felt different considering I was painted orange that day and out in a desert full of freako hippies, it really wasn't THAT different than the life I lead each day.

So, do we set our goals too low by saying we want to live purposefully and joyfully, connecting with friends and drinking coffee? Nope-- I think that's wisdom.

All you have to be is good.