INTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHING
I read about you in the New Yorker - I LOVE what you are doing and think that real solutions exist in books and you are on to something big here.
That being said, I have a problem - I worry that my life will have no meaning, that I will get to the end, look back and think that it is all a huge waste. It gets worse as I get older.
I think because of this, I tend to dabble in lots of things, hoping to find THE thing, I write novels, poetry, I try hard work-outs for a few months then develop interests in biology, mathematics, computers and the list goes on and on. I get really interested, dig in, then lose interest and move on to something else. Related - I buy books faster than I can read them, and have a huge backlog. I am interested, but as my interests wane, the books stay on the shelf unread.
At no point do I ever pick something and stick with it. So, I worry that I will never contribute to any of these and will waste my entire life.
Do you have any suggestions for me?
You, dear friend, are the sort of man who, in the past,would have been celebrated as a Renaissance man. Is there nothing which doesn't catch your eye, or stimulate your wide-ranging intelligence? It seems not. Play to your strengths and enjoy the appetite you have for life and all that you can learn – and if you don't stick with one thing for long, who cares? Where are you trying to get, anyway?
It seems to us that you have two choices: enjoy the interesting journey for what it is (a lot of fun, by the sound of it); or, do that AND write about it in your novels/poetry as you go. Is that not use enough of your knowledge?
Swap your notion of yourself as someone whois frittering away his life for one of someone who is voracious, hungry for everything. Live in the moment and then move on. Keep a diary/notebook/blog about where your latest reading is taking you. Take as your mentor the irrepressible, dancing Zorba from Zorba the Greek. OK, it's a cliche, but life really is about the journey, not the destination.
Ella and Suse
I felt a little confused as I read your message. It seems that we are suffering from a similar pathology. But I would like to divide mine in two syndromes.
First, I miss the focus to keep on digging the fields I’m interested in. Every day I come upon something that I would like to know more about, or that i’m curious about. I make lists as long as my arm of the things I would like to achieve in a near future. In the same day, I can decide that I want to become a carpenter, a journalist or an entrepreneur.
And when I eventually ponder over all the thing I noted, and the few I completed, I feel puzzled and sad.
Secondly, I have trouble to choose. I’m never sure that I’m doing the things I really want to do. I would like to be sure that my decisions are based on my judgement, not on something external.
Do you have any suggestions ?
Thanks for your advice,
Thomas.By Thomas on 20 Jul 2015
I suffer from a similar malady, really. Zorba the Greek is one my 2 or 3 favorite books. Perhaps it’s for the reasons suggested?By Josh on 06 May 2016
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