I propose that we don’t know what we want and one of the worst things that could ever happen to us is to actually get what we desire.
I’m not sure how to phrase this, but when I look back on my life as a younger man, I had all these desires of who I wanted to be and what I wanted out of life, and it’s all so comical and ridiculous. I’m grateful that I didn’t get what I was after. The world has led me to a much deeper and interesting place, but I had to learn to open up and stop telling it what to be. The world is much more interesting than any of the ideas I’ve had of it.
When I’ve felt most alive, I was only vaguely pursing anything. In my case, there has been this opening up to the universe, studying and learning, eventually leading me to physics. I look at it and just marvel at the complexity and the mystery. The more I immerse myself in it, it sort of engulfs me and it carries me to some new place. Opportunities present themselves which I never would have imagined for myself ten years ago. I simply keep observing and follow the cues, letting it unravel this bizarre story of its own making.
Change is magical. I look back on my past and all the hard work, writing boring business software, living like the guys in Office Space, and wonder why I didn’t do all of this earlier. What is that saying? Hindsight is 20/20? I guess I was always hoping to earn enough money to escape the normal 9/5 drudgery most people get trapped in, but you know what? I didn’t need to escape. I needed to change. But I was so sure I knew the best road for me. After all, I had sat down and thought about it very carefully, and after due consideration, I decided that that was the best road to be on. In truth, I had no idea what would make me happy. I had no idea what the world even had to offer.
Maybe I can try to define what I think of happiness. Since we can never leave the world, to be fulfilled in this life, we have to learn to love the world with all its faults, stupidities, and ugliness, just as true lovers learn to accept the faults in their partners. We have to commit to this world. We must attach to it, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. It’s all about being here and now in this life. We’re attached to the people in our lives, our families, our friends, our communities. That seems to me to be the path to happiness in this life.
I don’t think this is necessarily an emotional feeling of joy, because as Slavoj Zizek points out, we oftentimes have to experience pain during this process. It’s about being genuine, living by your ideas and ideals. Something to that effect.