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Dreams and Hopes, September 10th, 2000 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

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archived soapbox: September 10th, 2000
"Dreams and Hopes" [permalink]
    keywords: life, career, dreams, motivations, ambition, love
    soapbox #: 258
    written: September 10th, 2000
    words: 1888

"Dreams and Hopes", an Essay

So here's my thing. I'm a young punk with lots of dreams and hopes that pop up in my head and remind me of where I want to go and what the goal is. So far in my life I've pretty much just done whatever the Hell I felt (with the fortunate freedom to be able to do so) would push me in the right direction, and kept my goals in sight.

More and more lately I've been considering whether the final goal is really what one is after -- after all, you've probably heard it all too often that the journey is better than the destination. Well, there's a lot of truth in that. I mean, where do you really go once you have everything, if you happen to even get that far? Is the destination what you're really striving for?

So it follows that I've been trying to figure out how to complement things in my life more. How to live a richer life and all that shit. And basically none of my conclusions really have changed what I wanted in the first place, so I go back then to wondering if I had it right after all. Maybe my destination IS my journey.

Okay, so it sounds like childish logic and writer's wicked space-filling tricks. But here's what I've been pleasantly dreaming about:

The stock market has and never will be my whole life. I no longer believe in the success of basing a career off something I love. It is true that when you begin to get more advanced at your job, you grow tired of the bureaucracy and tediousness that you have to fight more and more with bigger and more demanding projects. It happened to me in web design. I know for a fact it happens to writers and actors and anyone who enjoys the independence of expression. And I am not really sure I'd want to thrust the stock market into the spotlight of my life and obsess over the details of trading as if my entire passion were in it. Because it's not. Which is not to detract from what is, after all, my dream of becoming a successful trader, because I enjoy it and appreciate it for its practicality and simple laws of nature (supply vs. demand, greed vs. fear) and also because it provides a satisfaction of having one's ear to the train tracks of the entire world economy and the smaller components that compose it. But I feel that working on something you love as a career perhaps detracts from the purity of your work because of the necessities of marketing it to other people in whichever way your trade demands.

So what is it exactly I would do if I were able to become a disciplined, successful trader? Well, for starters, I would live a simple life. I am not drawn to excesses, or to ridiculous gambles (as joking friends and family might insinuate from a career in trading) but instead just enjoy fine things. Fine things are things which are most often not extremely hard to find, but enough that they can help you personalize who you are. Fine things are not extravagant things or outright disgustingly overdone. They are simple, but satisfactorily pleasurable.

After having been to Rome, I cannot imagine not at one point in my life buying a place outside of Rome, when the technology allows, to see those intensely golden wheatfields daily and to smile at the genuine richness and liveliness the earth and soil there contain.

But I get ahead of myself. What I want to put my passion into are two other things: a woman and a hobby, both of which I am intently dedicated to. Now, these two things are what I feel one's heart should go into, and save the satisfaction and practicality for the career. Being wholly honest, I admit I'm making this up as I go so I may be making missteps in logic or missing key counterpoints, but it seems to make sense that a career can be destructive to you if it does not make sense to you and if you feel you can't express yourself without doing it. On the other hand, love in its various forms will always be constructive, destructive, volatile, oftimes fickle, moody, full of degrees, fleeting, frequent, ever-changing.

And isn't that what the heart is built for? To be wounded and to be healed? So by woman, I mean that woman I think about all the time, that rather peculiar type of woman who surprises you by not fitting into any characterization you can think of, their appearance varying in every way except in the root of it (her personality, which is that of being, well, as I said, peculiar), their love for you born out of curiosity, admiration, and comfortability, their confidence in no way being excessive towards completely self-loathing or ultra feminist ice queen (or as some say, recognizing that allowing oneself to be weak in the heart is part of being a strong person), their desire for an equal partner, a person who can challenge them and at the same time complement them. For someone like me, who would immediately be skeptical of any interest in myself by another as being either shallow compliment, ulterior in motive, or pure ignorance of the many people who are better than me, the hardest goal to attain will never be money, or fame, or anything else except finding that one person who will genuinely want to kiss you, or love you, or sacrifice part of themsslves for you.

And by hobby, I mean that thing that you love to do and never think about making money off of it or being obsessed with being the best at it or any of those other ways to exploit it. It's something you would do no matter what if you could; it's something you would dream about if you were locked in a prison cell or stranded on an island. It's something that you just like to do. For me, it's been technology thus far, since it lets me overcome the limitations of my organic self and also lets me connect and process more than ever before. Technology continues to improve and is a self-correcting, self-advancing chain reaction and to watch the explosions of light occur right while I'm standing in the middle of it is breathtaking.

But one thing I've always wanted to do once I've had the means to support myself independently and very comfortably is to somehow take on a student. Or maybe even a classroom of students. I've had mentors of sorts my whole life, from my parents, who by our nature probably seem more like mentors and students these days, to friends who have almost always been older than me with children and histories, to Anna, whose educating me was cut off, in my opinion, far before it should have been.

Teaching someone else has always been something I've taken private enjoyment from. I don't think I've ever done it formally, but I would like to think that there are many people who I have opened up new doors of thinking to so that they have grown as people. And to see the intellectual growth and stimulation that takes place in someone is something to be cherished, and you also get to share what all you've learned so that it can live on in someone else.

At any rate, this is more of a recent revelation to me, since I didn't always have any interest in being a teacher to someone. My parents have both taught, so perhaps I get it that way, but I also just think that having people around you who are willing to learn and experience new things is a good thing for both them and you.

I found that when I lost Anna, who had previously been the only person I really talked to in depth and about my deepest feelings, that a world had been cut off from me. Losing her as my soulmate meant that I really had no one else I could seriously communicate with, and during the time since I've patched together conversations with different people to try and achieve the same thing, but it never will be the same thing. It is not unlike what Robin Williams' character in "Good Will Hunting" was criticizing Damon's character for: conversations with Wordsworth and Nietzsche and Poe are not conversations; you can take, but you cannot give. And that is perhaps my greatest limitation right now.

So in getting back to the point, in which I was ruminating about how the journey IS the destination, I have settled down tremendously emotionally and come to realize that there's more important things than expecting the world to fall inside narrow boundaries and laws, and that things can really change how you want them to because it's your life to make of as you will. No one out there really cares if you get this or marry her or experience that. You have to do it yourself and no amount of dramatic posturing picked up from fatalistic novella will bring solutions to your door.

The side effects of this realization are that I no longer pursue debates with the same degree of fury and passion, and I don't wear an attitude on my sleeve like I used to. I don't cling onto an unfounded and complicated moral system anymore. Obviously I am more receptive towards new ideas and new ways of life now, and travelling a lot at this time is certainly taking advantage of my status of mind. After unweaving a lot of my limitations before, perhaps I'm finally ready to learn.

Is reality so bleak? Is it really as simple as you having to forage for everything in your life and nothing comes to you on its own? Well, no, I think that once you work hard enough at something, things begin to snowball and all the sudden it all comes to you, like switching on a light. And I have experienced things in my own life that give me hope in fate and in purity and love and goodness. I can't deny those things but I do admit they have odd timing and resist appearances when you look hard for them. It is a reminder that there isn't a goal of looking for those things in life, but that you should be getting on living and then when the time comes that you're ready for something, it'll show up. It would be beautiful if there were truth in this theory of how things work.

The internal struggle between self-determination and external forces... Perhaps all I've really learned through all this is that I know nothing -- a clichéd Socratic phrase perhaps, but one that provides striking clarity to a person still at a young age who is sorting out what should be important in life.


 
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