Friday, July 8, 2016

What do You Really Want?

What do you want? What do you really want, not just stuff and adventures, but what do you really want out of life? At times, I have been so disappointed with my life that I really didn’t know what I wanted beyond a few material possessions, for example a new car. During one of these times I was tired of paying to repair my collection of old rust buckets. More than anything else while living through these unhappy chapters, I just wanted someone to end the suffering. Suffering is something we all experience as humans in a fallen world.

When I began writing this article I went searching for a life list I wrote many years ago. It isn’t too bad especially considering what was going on in my life at the time. Some of my dreams have sort-of-kind-of came to pass. I wanted to retire in 2008 with a certain income. I managed to retire five years after the target date with pretty close to the desired amount of money. I wanted to get in better shape. Specifically I wanted to lose a little over 100 pounds. In fact I have lost about 35 pounds and I am in much better shape. I wanted to write. Guess I got my wish on that one. I am closing in on 800 blog articles. That seems kind of amazing to me. I didn’t know I had it in me. I am still working on some of these goals even though I forgot they were on the list. Really, the only one I have completely ditched is living in Hawaii. The taxes and cost of living is too high for the benefits. Although, I still want to spend time in Hawaii on at least a semi-regular basis.

Like engineering design, life is a trade off. As Steven Wright observed, “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”

When designing a speaker an engineer can’t have small size, high efficiency, and solid bass. To get a good bass sound out of a small speaker it must consume an enormous amount of power. Highly efficient speakers with a good lower range come in large boxes. Today, home theater systems use half a dozen or so little speakers with a large separate subwoofer camouflaged to look like a piece of furniture.

When the Japanese Zero was introduced in 1940, it quickly became the terror of the Pacific. Nothing could out dogfight a Zero, but its high performance and extremely long range came at a cost. The design engineers sacrificed armor, self sealing gas tanks, and even radios for everyone but command pilots to keep the weigh of the aircraft low. The Americans discovered that it didn’t take too many incendiary rounds to turn a Zero into a flaming ball of shrapnel.

Your life isn’t any different. If you want to live off the grid on a self sufficient organic farm, you won’t need a lot of income after paying for the land. However, you won’t be riding in your limousine to the opening of new season at the Metropolitan Opera. On the other hand, if your dream is to live in Trump Tower and work in a corner office at Goldman Sachs, your career will start with 12 hour workdays—minimum. After 20 years, you just might be able to reserve a box at the Met for the entire season.

Are your goals realistic? Are they realistic to you? If the answer is, “No,” to either of these questions, lower them or raise your opinion of your own abilities. If I wanted to become a 250 pound, 65 year old ballet dancer, I would hope my wife and friends would gently guide me in a new direction. However, I can become a better writer and maybe someday actually get paid by my readers. Losing another 15 pounds over the next six months is entirely realistic, as is a long stay in Hawaii.

A word about friends: In motivational literature the example of crabs in a bucket appears from time to time. It is said that it isn’t necessary for a fisherman to put a lid on a bucket of crabs. All the crabs will bite onto each other allowing no one to escape. Are your friends like crabs that are biting you, holding you down, and preventing you from escaping the cook’s bucket to find freedom? If this is the case, find some new friends—fast. Look for friends who will give you wise counsel and support you as you explore your lifetime and lifestyle goals. They will help you. In turn, someday it is quite likely you will have the opportunity to return the favor.

If you want to be a responsible adult, God and common sense requires you to work for a living to support your family and give something from your surplus to the community. Pay your bills, keep your promises, do your best not to become a burden to others. The rest of it is pretty much up to you and your spouse. There are a lot of ways to live a good life or even find your way to a better life—even at 65.

You can do it!

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