Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thoughts on the Future: Decidedly Non Financial

Let me preface this by saying: I do not believe in the law of attraction. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and the idea they "brought it upon themselves" by "thinking bad thoughts" just doesn't jive well with my cosmic understanding of the universe.

That said.

I've been thinking a lot lately about components of the future. I have found imagining what I want works better than goals because it allows flexibility and staves off a fear of failure. Often, when I reread paper journals I find I've accomplished things I was merely imagining years before by virtue of getting the idea into my head.

You have to get ideas into your head.

I had a conversation about this with one of my most successful friends who comes from one of the most disadvantaged communities in the country. He asked if he should be working a difficult, badly paying "do gooder" job or if he should sell out and make money. I responded with a story about encountering someone from his community when I was maybe eleven.

We were sitting in a circle talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. There were "funded" kids who were shipped in from his community, a few middle class kids like me, and a large number of kids from white collar homes. The middle class and white collar kids came out with answers like "Doctor!" There are a limited range of career options you're aware of in elementary school. One funded kid said "taxi driver." Everyone laughed. His uncle was a taxi driver.

The thing is, his uncle was probably the most successful person he knew, one of few in his community with steady work. It was difficult for him to imagine anything else because he didn't know anything else. I told my friend there was nothing wrong with making money and being the most successful person kids growing up there know.

I don't personally know anyone right now with the life I want to lead. There are people with pieces, though, and I knit them together in my mind as potential ideas.

(1) A relationship like the one I have with my significant other - even if the relationship doesn't end up being with him. Specifically, I see myself leading a fairly uncomplicated life with someone who shares my most basic interests yet still challenges me.

(2) Connecting with an intellectual community on a casual basis, engaging with people able to process ideas in a capacity I respect and can engage with. This has nothing to do with education. As an odd digital example, Ask MeFi is a problem solving community full of articulate insightful people. Personally, the high school friends I still consider friends are in diverse fields but have stimulated my thoughts on many issues for over a decade.

(3) Doing good work I feel good about. Not on an abstract level, which is kind of what I work in right now. I envision myself working with people.

(4) A small office with hand selected coworkers, most of whom will probably fit the description in point two.

(5) Located in a community that facilitates my spiritual development. That sounds hokey. I'm not erasing it. I want to live around as many people as possible who are striving to lead a good life, in that philisophical introspective sense. I see myself finding a home (my Other and I have a lot of discussions about prospective cities and neighborhoods) after all these rootless years.

(6) The freedom to investigate many different ideas to maximize convergence. I see myself learning to do a lot of different things through life. I like novelty. I also think learning about a variety of things increases understanding of prior knowledge.

(7) I see myself living in defiance of my age.

Everything else, kids/money/travel is still developing. I expect the life sabbatical will offer some insights - I'm spending a great deal of time in a community containing some of my favorite minds. None of them are famous, most are wise, all offer genuine ideas about life.

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