From a young age, we are told that the meaning to our life is defined by what we accomplish in this world. Accomplishments come in the form of all sorts of things. They can come in the form of awards given out in the formative years of elementary and middle school such as “1st Place” in a reading competition or maybe in the form of trophies for exemplary performance in athletic performance. As we grow older, past the college years our life’s worth is defined by how much money we generate through our various endeavors. We are made to believe that a rich person’s life is inherently worth more than someone who is homeless. Of course, everyone would desire some form of comfort and security in income. We are told we must work hard and make the best of ourselves in order to outwit, outlast, outplay, and out-earn. But what about people who have no interests in these things? What about the people who have no vested interest in this competition – man to man that burns out the soul faster than even the hottest of otherworldly fires?
In order to advance in society, a person must sacrifice their entire person. Profit maximization requires a destruction of someone somewhere along the line, whether it be from consumer, worker, or manager. Time must be invested into these endeavors, something that seems to be shrinking everyday. The regular shift is 9-5 and becoming a drone is mandatory. We work tirelessly so that we can have some chance in advancing in society and afford the finer things in life. So we can have wealth, so we can have status. In the end, we lose ourselves. If we do not meet these goals that society meets for us, we are considered failures and are branded as undesirable outcasts.
When I think of people who are the highly revered in society, they tend to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, businessmen. These people tend to toil for hours and hours on end in the pursuit of cash. They then lose themselves. It’s no secret that these people have deteriorating familial relationships and for good reason. What’s the point of making tons of money and then coming home late and only spending 2 hours with your family until you have to go to bed?
There are two brothers. One is a hedge fund manager at a reputable investment group. The other works as an independent artist, selling his works making money here and there. Which brother do you think mother and father are more likely to introduce more proudly at a familial gathering? The hedge fund brother’s familial life may be falling apart at the seams but he is the one who they’ll be more proud of.
Isn’t living a creative existence filled with life-enhancing moments enough? Why can’t we be happy instead of going after more? It’s one thing to want a nice house and live modestly. It’s another to desire excess and lose your soul to keep it. I just hope one day that I won’t have to sacrifice myself just so I can live the way I want to rather than what society demands of me.