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
IT'S HAPPENING! We're going to publish an edition of @matthaig1's bestselling #HowToStopTime with illustrations by… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…2 Oct ago
2 Oct ago
@stevemur67 @RobGMacfarlane Ah yes! Me too! Narwhals and sea-cucumbers! Also- The Secret Garden- robins and wildflowers...2 Oct ago
For me- Tarzan of the Apes.. possibly not too accurate though! twitter.com/robgmacfarlane…2 Oct ago
Chuffed to be included in #QuickReads this year with fellow Moseleyite @MarkBillingham twitter.com/readingagency/…29 Sep ago
29 Sep ago
@ChickAndTheDead You're also the only person I know whose fiancée proposed to them via a grave....28 Sep ago
Of all the letters I've unearthed in archives, this is by far the best. It's a model of how to say no to someone yo… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…28 Sep ago
@PNovelistGale @matthaig1 @radiobailie @BBCCornwall @NCornBookFest Love that book-.stop time by reading it this autumn!28 Sep ago
Enjoyed @matthaig1 chatting to @radiobailie on @BBCCornwall just now? Book for Matt's @NCornBookFest talk here!… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…27 Sep ago
@anthony_mcgowan Many a day had passed in pursuit of the mosaic tailed rat27 Sep ago
@anthony_mcgowan That really is oddly named. Intrigued too why you came across it. Are you in Papua New Guinea?27 Sep ago
@lizzieenfield hope you've found The 10pm Question by Kate de Goldi,2calm concerns... also Shane by Jack Schaefer for anything obstinate27 Sep ago
@danielhahn02, hope you are reading Jean Giono even now, sewing mental acorns27 Sep ago
27 Sep ago