It's easy to get turned on to the 'get better' message.
Heck, there are plenty of examples, some more real than others, where it appears to have worked.
But of course, it's all out there (*sighs*), and leaves us feeling constantly anxious, if we're not living up to our self-imposed targets.
Rarely are we presented (by the media) with someone who is content with their lot. Watch any modern-day programme and it's all about the look. And you're either with the in crowd or you're not.
Even though my time has been and gone (aged 50), I too thought that I had to get something to become something. It wasn't material success that turned me on but the outturn from work, e.g. a bigger title, more prestige and something to talk about among friends.
I've no competitive work spirit. It died long ago -- I'd say August 2010, if not earlier.
At times that's left me bereft emotionally and psychologically.
What to do with my life?
The moment we realise that there's only this moment -- no future or past -- is the moment we drop out of our narcissistic state and begin to see that we don't have to get anything, go anywhere or (certainly) be anything.
Remember what Thomas Merton said about the dichotomy between true and false self:
“Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self..We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves. (34) Contemplation is not and cannot be a function of this external self. There is an irreducible opposition between the deep transcendent self that awakens only in contemplation, and the superficial, external self which we commonly identify with the first person singular.(7) Our reality, our true self, is hidden in what appears to us to be nothingness...We can rise above this unreality and recover our hidden reality...(281) God Himself begins to live in me not only as my Creator but as my other and true self. (41)” -- New Seeds of Contemplation
Of course, for the ego this is death dealing. It ALWAYS needs something to chew on -- problems are its speciality. But we don't need to live like that despite the tendency for the thinking self to have it's radar on constantly.
In my case, as I now see, the state of Wu-wei is the only way to be.
The practice, if you can even call it that, is what my life is about. That's not to say I don't struggle with the daily vicissitudes of living with three children (20, 18, 14), two dogs and a long-suffering wife (of my various peccadillos). But, trust me, it's a lot better than only being turned on to work as a way of becoming something.
OK, so right now, I've been grabbed by the creative life and not the idea of starting another business, but that's the only time I feel 100% alive. And I love it. Just for it being it. Nothing more. Nothing less.
(I'll write more about the period 2010-2016 as I think it's a reminder to me not to get caught up in the vainglorious and instead to go much deeper with the question, "Who am I?".)
What about you?
What's showing up in your life right now that you're able to share?
Lots of doing?
Or something more meaningful.
I'd love to know.