30 September 2013

*ends radio silence*

Sometimes I have a hard time balancing motivation with contentment. I want to have a game plan, and I believe in having goals to work towards and accomplish. I want to get my doctorate one day. I want to have a child one day. I want to visit all seven continents. I want to be my own boss. I have lists of goals scribbled in notebooks and saved to my documents and pinned to my bulletin board. I believe in goals, I believe in lifelong learning and I believe that self-motivation and embracing your individuality are keys to success. But what are these goals if not for each other? When a few weeks have gone by and I’m overwhelmed by my to-do list, I know I’ve lost sight of why I’m busy and instead I’ve just been. I don’t want to be someone who is so involved with where I’m going that I don’t appreciate where I am.

There is a passage in Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s The Little Prince where the prince comes across a railway switchman: a man who spends his days sorting out travelers as they rush back and forth between their destinations. As a train rushes by the Little Prince questions the switchman about the passengers inside:

"Were they not satisfied where they were?" asked the little prince. 

"No one is ever satisfied where he is," said the switchman. 

And they heard the roaring thunder of a third brilliantly lighted express. 

"Are they pursuing the first travelers?" demanded the little prince. 

"They are pursuing nothing at all," said the switchman.  "They are asleep in there, or if they are not asleep they are yawning. Only the children are flattening their noses against the windowpanes." 

It is easy to grow weary of traveling if we avoid responding to the diurnal beauty of where we currently are, and the originality of each interaction. I was driving to the post office this morning and I stopped to let a pedestrian cross the road.  He had cumulus-cloud hair and friendly eyes and he held his coat tight around him in protection from the cold. We watched eight other cars pass by before someone in the other lane stopped for him, and as the old man gave me a big wave and a thankful smile I felt instantly guilty. So often I am one of the eight cars- so determined to get to where I’m going that I miss the person right beside me...

Where are we going to so fast?

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