Best Advice I’ve Ever Received & “To Do Nothing”
About 3 weeks ago, I attended my younger sister’s high school graduation. As per usual, one of the speakers was the teacher of the year. He gave this brilliant, not-too-long speech about life. His speech was one of just two speeches I’ve heard in my entire life that truly impressed me. He gave three pieces of advice:
1) Know your purpose.
2) Pursue your purpose.
3) “And if it comes down to it, forget the money.”
Sure I’ve heard something like that before, but the message was never before delivered so earnestly or so clearly. Usually, when I hear those things, it’s from some person who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars (sometimes millions) each year. It’s usually from someone who came from a fortunate background and had no trouble pursuing what they loved because eating wasn’t a concern. It’s usually from someone who has some glamorous success story similar to some sort of disney fairy tale.
This story was different because it was real. He told us of his struggles. He told us of his sacrifices. Don’t get me wrong, his story is still one of success, otherwise he wouldn’t be teacher of the year. What makes his success different is that it is tangible. I could see the results of his efforts and his students experienced them first hand.
As for my purpose, well, I am still searching. I’ve had lots of ideas, made lots of observations that deeply affect me, yet so far, I haven’t found anything I’m willing to do for the rest of my life. Everything seems like minor hobbies. My greatest desire, right now, is to do nothing. I don’t mean that in an “I want to sit around and leech resources from my parents and society” way. I mean that more in an “I’m searching for a slower, more serene way of life” sort of way. I mean that in an “I don’t want to cultivate my mind in nontraditional ways at my own pace” sort of way. I seek simplicity and solitude. I want to reduce my life and minimize the stress. I want to shed everything society has imposed on me.
While it would be easy enough to drop everything and move to the Nepali countryside (arbitrary country choice), I’m tethered to this version of my life by expectation. I’m expected to get a degree, but in order to get that degree I’m supposed to go into debt with the government, and in order to pay off that debt I need a job that pays me enough for me to eat AND pay off the debt. In order to get a job that does that, I need to go to graduate school, and in order to go to graduate school I need to go further into debt. By the time I pay off all of the debt, half of my life will be over and I fear I won’t have had any meaningful experiences. I feel as if in this version of my life, there is no opportunity to grow organically because there is so much outside influence. I limit my exposure to television and the internet as much as possible, but I still need to go to these sources because they contain such valuable, pertinent information.
Eventually, I hope, I will achieve simplicity, but for now, I’ll just keep moving along.