As we approach the end of 2009 I’m taken to pondering how I’ve spent this year and whether it’s been a good use of the reducing number of years I have left of life. As my daughter pointed out to me whilst out walking recently, at 37 I’ve most likely lived about half my life already! That’s a sobering thought.
Working away from home and on my own a lot, I get the opportunity to mull over life, the universe and everything. What’s the point? Why am I here? You know, just the trivial stuff! 😉 I have come to the conclusion that there are many potential answers to that question, which are right or wrong for different people, depending on their viewpoint, outlook on life, upbringing, religious beliefs, geographical location, economic position etc. For a career research physicist for example, their life long goal would be to extend the boundaries of human knowledge, and of course become immortal by inventing an anti-gravity car.
For me, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not going to change the world. I’m not going to be the first astronaut to Mars for example (lol), nor invent something earth shattering, nor create some marvellous work of art or piece of engineering. History will most likely forget pretty quickly that Colin McNulty from Stockport ever existed. As depressing as it sounds, that realisation is fairly liberating in its own way. Many people go through life desperately looking for the great meaning behind it all. Acceptance that there is none, breaks you free from the shackles of needing to satisfy some future purpose, allowing you more brain time to devote to the now. The point is, contrary to Ludwig Wittgenstein (20th Century philosopher) opinion when he said:
“I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.”
For my fairly mundane existence, my main goal *is* to enjoy my life. I’m mindful of another quote, this time by Alice Morse Earle in the 1902 book, Sun Dials and Roses of Yesterday:
“The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
I don’t have a lot of hobbies or personal goals. Crossfit is making me fitter and stronger; and the Zone Diet is making me healthier; but they are both a means to an end. There are some transient personal goals that can be achieved, trinkets of success if you will, to be collected along the way: weightlifting is one of them. Coming 2nd in the British Masters weightlifting this year was fun and I hope to improve on that next year. The go karting in Cardiff last month was fun too, and my team and I have been invited back to an invitational only “Best of the Best” race in January. A small nugget of imagined (insignificant) success I’m sure. I’ve also started to take up rock climbing, which one day I hope will be a hobby I can share with my daughter. And I’ve read more books this year than I think I have in any other year of my life so far, which can only be a good thing, right?
I do wonder too about our genetic predilection for procreation. I have one marvellous daughter and it occurs to me whether I should have had more offspring? There is indeed some guttural part of my psyche that demands it, in order to further duplicate my genes. The pull of all my ancestors going back a million years, demanding the continuation of our combined genetic line, is a strong biological force.
However this is countered by my belief that the world is already over populated and the human race needs to be breeding less, not more. The world and the resources on it are finite, and yet the world’s population is growing at an ever faster rate. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that this can’t continue. I could pontificate about this ad nauseam, but maybe another day.
Getting back to the point, I’ve had 100% gainful work for all of 2009, something many people would be envious of in these tumultuous times, and I’ve earned a tidy sum by most people’s standards, however I’ve not enjoyed my work. Whilst the project I’m working on had a lot of potential, I’ve been a very small cog in a monstrous government IT machine, that has slowly lurched from… [REDACTED for preservation of income reasons]. It’s ultimately soul destroying, paper pushing work, which does absolutely nothing to further my sense of personal satisfaction or well being. Furthermore, it’s kept me away from my family and my gym for most of the year, which is always a poor outcome.
So I come to the conclusion that 2009 has been a mixed bag. On the one hand I’ve had some new experiences, learnt new skills and have been financially secure. On the other, I’ve missed home and family, and achieved little growth professionally. I have high hopes for 2010 however, and intend on making some significant personal changes in order to facilitate them. Wait for announcements in the traditional form of New Year’s resolutions. This time next Rodney, we’ll be millionaires! 😉