What do you want?

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 9, 2020, 6:00 PM | comments: 0

The pandemic may have prompted you to reevaluate your life. I think one of the most fundamental questions people never ask is, what do you want? It seems like there's a cultural rule that suggests it's not OK to ask that.

We tend to make a lot of plans when we're younger about what we think we want, which is a really terrible time to do so. When you're 40 and you look back at 20, you can probably admit that your inexperience did not serve as bedrock to figure out what you want. Very little really happened to you at that point.

Worse than the inexperience is the reality that we all endure a domestication process that tells us what we should want, and I don't think most of us question it. Go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, get the house and the car... it's what most of us probably do whether we wanted to or not. In essence, you didn't really decide what you wanted. (Fun sidebar: this is generally true when it comes to religion, too.)

So you wake up one day in a pandemic and think, "How did I get here?"

I bet that sounds a little midlife crisis, and maybe it is a little. When you're faced with constraints, you know, you start asking yourself what you can do. I think the good news is that your domestication outcome is probably not the worst thing. The existential crisis is more in the details of understanding that you probably didn't choose it, it was just what you were "supposed to do."

What do I want? I don't really have a detailed answer. I accept that to exist in society, I have to work, so I'm certain that I want to do work that is interesting and gives me some purpose. And working can give you comfort, so I want to understand how much comfort I need. I want to love and be loved, and for all of us to be safe. It's not very specific.

The domestic plan given to us doesn't necessarily make any of those things happen, or at least, they're not the only way to make those happen. When it comes to what I want, I can be abstract and high-level, but not get in the weeds. I wonder if I should.


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