There are many downsides to this, yes, and one of them is this: how would I know that I am doing ok? Is the trajectory the correct one, or am I being hurled into hell on earth?
The greatest folly that I can make in this assessment is if I use the conventional metric of "success" when my decisions have rarely ever been to follow conventions. I can, and should, use only measures that are appropriate to the life I have fashioned for myself.
To illustrate the idea, allow me to present this--a typical day in the life of the highly ranked tennis star, Novak Djokovic:
A typical day:As I read that, my immediate thought was that the author has described it remarkably well:
7:30 Wake-up. Tepid glass of water. Stretching. A bowl of muesli with a handful of mixed nuts, some sunflower seeds, sliced fruit, and a small scoop of coconut oil. Chew very slowly.8:30 Meet with coach and physiotherapist. Hit with training partner. Drink two bottles of energy drink, adding a hydration drink with electrolytes if it’s humid.10:00 Stretching. Check color of urine.11:00 Sports massage.12:00 Lunch. Gluten-free pasta with vegetables.1:30 Work out. Drink organic protein shake made from water mixed with pea protein.2:30 Stretching.3:00 Hitting practice.4:30 Stretching.5:00 Business meetings.7:30 Dinner. No Alcohol. No Dessert. Protein. Vegetables, but not beets, potatoes, parsnips, squash or pumpkin, which are too high in carbs.
The life style of an élite athlete rivals that of an inmate for abstemiousness and monotony. (Tennis players seem to spend half their lives in the shower.) If many of his competitors reside in a county jail of their own making, Djokovic inhabits a supermax prison.Indeed, it is almost as if Djokovic is being held in a maximum security prison, with a highly regimented daily life from which he cannot stray.
There is no way that I would want to trade places with him. Check color of urine? I don't even bother to look at what comes out when I peeing!
But, that is the life that Djokovic chose for himself. Thus, his measure of success and a good life is also different from mine.
I, for instance, eat whatever suits my fancy that particular moment, and even within my restricted food intake I seem to have an endless array of possibilities compared to what Djokovic allows himself. I find immense pleasure in creating my own meals, and having coffee whenever it pleases me. No dessert? No beets? Drink protein shake?
|Boiled peanut salad|
with red and yellow bell peppers, onion, cilantro, and semi-ripe mango
But, yes, being conventional, I think, will be far easier than to find my own interpretation of life. It is difficult to even define what life ought to be, and then even more difficult to keep after it. Bill Watterson--yes, that Calvin and Hobbes guy--put it well in his oft-cited commencement address two decades ago:
having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another.It is not easy by any means. But, yes, it is worth all the trouble.
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You'll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you're doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you'll hear about them.
To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble.