Ever since I read this quote by Dean Karnazes, I think I have been afraid…
“It is so easy to live a life that has been scripted for you by others, to fall into the mire of conformity by following a path that society has laid before you, rather than heeding your own unique calling. Comfort, complacency, routine, the path of least resistance, the easy road – these things are the bane of humankind. It is a disquieting moment when you awaken to realise the trappings of conventiality have created a life for you that is entirely different from the one you wish to live.” – Dean Karnazes
This quote will mean different things to different people. To me, I read it as meaning that a life not spent charging overseas and discovering the world and having big adventures was a life not worth living. It meant not being content. It meant not being happy with one’s lot.
But is this helpful? Is this real life?
My personal reading of this quote made me afraid of ‘normal’ life. It made me afraid of letting my guard down and being content. I look at people who are (or seem to be) content with what they’ve got and where they are, and I am envious of their seemlingly intrinsic satisfaction with life.
You see, I think there is something flawed in my reading of that quote by Karnazes, or rather, my interpretation of it. I read it as extoling the virtues of an autonomous life free from outside influences, driven only by one’s individual goal of self-sufficiency and if-its-going-to-be-its-up-to-me attitude.
I repeat, I realise that this quote will mean different things to different people. But for me, this quote reads as a dangerous idolisation of a self-driven individualistic mindset that is focussed on what is best for my life, rather than what contribution I can make to others’ lives.
Funny, isn’t it, that we can read into things what we want them to mean. Karnazes is a dedicated man who has used his fame for awesome things in environmental concern, physical wellbeing. He has raised over US$1.2 million for charitable causes. His is not an individualistic endeavour. It is a vision that draws others into the fullness of life.
When, oh when, will I feel content again?
“Focus on others and things outside of yourself, rather than be caught in a downward spiral of inward self-pity” – a good piece of advice I received recently from a treasured friend.