It's time to take a page out of my dog's book on living.
In my life, I've been disciplined, dedicated and goal-oriented. I've had ambitions and dreams, just like anyone else. For the past few years, I've been struggling a bit with guilt that surrounds my no longer having any dreams. Lately, even my hobbies have dwindled. Being chronically ill not only robs you of drive and a desire to be productive in society, but it also impairs that will to participate in hobbies you once enjoyed. It leaves you empty and indifferent. Maybe even passionless. I don't mean to sound dramatic or negative. I'm not sad, in fact, I'm fairly positive that I'm going to recover and get back to living my life with the vibrancy I once had.
But my current way of living sure does make for difficult social conversations. Whenever people ask me how my business is doing, I tell them I'm not working. That inevitably leads them to asking what I actually do instead. A social engagement is not the best place to bring up being ill, and since I'm never prepared for the question, I tell them the truth: I do nothing--other than the basic things a person does to get through the day. You can imagine the pregnant pause that brings to the conversation---especially in Silicon Valley. Sometimes people who know me will try to cover up their disbelief and add, "But the dogs keep you busy." And that always gives me a good chuckle. I mean, honestly, folks. I love my dogs and spend tons of time with them but I've never had them consume my days.
In an age where we are faced constantly with social media pressures to be popular or recognized for even the smallest achievements, where we are bombarded with manifestos on how to live well and be a super star, it's hard not to feel a wee-bit guilty for stepping back and admitting that you don't have any goals or ambitions.
You know what? You don't have to! According to the timely advice given by actor, writer, composer and comedian Tim Minchin in a commencement speech to the graduating class of his Alma mater:
You don't have to have a dream. If your dream is big enough, by the time you get to it, you will be almost dead. Instead, have a passionate dedication to the pursuit of short term goals. Work on whatever is in front of you. You never know where you'll end up. Your next worthy pursuit will appear in your periphery and if you are focused too far out on long term dreams, you won't see that shiny thing out of the corner of your eye."
That's funny. Moving to Switzerland was a bit like that the shiny idea that appeared out of the corner of our eye and probably one of my favorite life experiences.
This piece of advice is the pivotal philosophy for living a happy, healthy canine life. As I sit here while the dogs at my feet passionately consume the cracker that Mr. Wild Dingo just shared with them, I realize I can be just as passionate at what I make for dinner as I once was about saving the world. Sometimes, there's no better example of good advice, than a dog enjoying a cracker.
Thank you Tim. That timely little gem just eliminated years of guilt. Whether those short term goals are what I'm going to eat for breakfast or where my dog hikes are going to be this week, I'm finally at peace with having no ambitions or dreams.
Even better, I have something to say at my next social engagement. And be completely serious about it.
Passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short term goals.
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