28 September 2005

momentarily or for a moment

Odds are One's post today prompted me to add to the discussion of living in/for/of the moment rather than constantly planning; of trying to figure out whether this is what you want or that or some other thing, or keeping options open, but committing to what you have as well.
It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got. or something.
I think it's good that we want more than we have, that we're striving for something most of the time, whether that's staying above water this week, making sure your kid grows up right, or becoming a rock star. Ambition, in its weakest form, is still a good motivator. So I'm pro-ambition.
But as someone mentioned to me the other day, southern Wales is the sort of place where ambition comes to die. And she meant it in a positive way. It's beautiful here (wait for posts during February to switch that around), the people are overwhelmingly nice, everything is at your fingertips, from fresh eggs to bus service to the beach to all of the UK and Europe one plane hop away. And people on the bus have conversations about how they really don't want to work more than three days a week, I mean that's really the limit, isn't it? Oh yes, they say, no more than three days, and even then...
And as someone who has bucked the inertia of a tenure track job (some might say quit a perfectly good, permanent position) I am loathe to enter into another inertia-laden situation. But I think inertia and the death of (or lessened) ambition are two different things. I think low levels of ambition still can allow you to thrive in a comfortable location.
I suppose this is the moment in our lives, post-20s, pre-midlife crisis, the "thirtysomething" years, if you will, that cause one to wonder what one was striving for all those years, and whether that's really what you want. and then, realizing it's not, what to replace it with? Certainly the amazon/acupuncture path has nothing normal about it, and nor does the leaving (two) tenure track jobs path.
and if it takes a lot of thought, care, and words to figure this out, then perhaps that is the shortest route to a balanced path, and perhaps we're just, momentarily, again assessing our lives before we once again plunge into them. We're just a bit more careful about the location of the plunge now then we were in our Salad Days.


Number Three said...

Interesting post. Since I've recently broken free from a tenure-track rut to do . . . something else, I've been thinking a lot about "what I want out of life." I've been thinking a lot about "ambition," or "ambitions."

Isn't there (?) an old Chinese proverb (excuse the gendered langauge) that at ten, every man is an animal; at twenty, a madman; at thirty, a failure; at forty, a has-been; and at fifty, a sage. If there's truth in that proverb--and, let's be honest, have you ever heard a proverb that didn't have a little truth?--then the thirties are the cruelest decade--post-failure, tracking toward has-been-dom. But sagacity is coming.

Transient Gadfly said...

It's like, what, two months later? I just noticed the Sports Night reference.