Growing up before growing old

In the midst of a day, there are a number of things for which we find it is worth interrupting 'whatever else we're doing' and dedicating our time to. What comes to mind unfortunately are timely emergencies : A parent is sick, a friend is depressed, a child got kicked out of school ... And the reason why we do leave everything else to cater to these is because their very nature is interruptive. These are unexpected incidents we need to fix for everything to go back to normal. And 'normal' is probably the culprit here. Your career not being aligned with your life goals or your very soul is not as urgent as these matters. Our happiness being in-existent in our current lifestyle is in no way something we need to pay attention to right now. A beautiful quote by Bill Waterson, courtesy of  Brainpickings:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential – as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You'll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you're doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you'll hear about them. To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble.

Brainpickings explains how this text here distinguishes between "having an enviable career" and "being a happy person". It falls under what the dot-connecting blog calls the "hedonic treadmill" of achievement. An aimless run where we lose sight of the goal and end up drugged by the overwhelming feeling of fatigue and ticked boxes in a needless to-do list. And what better to echo this than Alain de Botton's Architecture of Happiness explaining how difficult it is to refuse an out-of-the box house a real estate agency would suggest to us:

We would be sternly reminded that to scorn their designs would therefore be to ignore commercial logic and attempt to deny others a democratic right to their own tastes, bringing us into conflict with two of the great authoritative concepts of our civilisation, money and liberty

Sitting in a bus on my way from Paris to London, happy to be writing, with just a single luggage as a belonging, I saw a group of young people sitting outside a store they seem to be painting. They're laughing and clearly happy. On my right, people are lying in a park, putting an end to the week-end under a rare London sun. And it all feels like an oasis in a large desert where the dominant colour is that of the tyranny of money and liberty.

It might seem money is the real peccant. But it's not. Money is advertised as a means to more liberty and freedom. It is the promoted conception of liberty and freedom that hence needs to be questioned. Criticism aside, in times where a program such as PRISM is defended with says such as "PRISM is there for us to be free", one wonders if freedom means primarily 'free of something', be it fear or war or famine. An environment where our basic needs and emotional stability are guaranteed. And once that environment is secured, whether freedom is nothing more than a smiley nap in a park or the liberty to paint a store or write to your heart's delight in the back of a rocking bus.

But just like happiness, freedom is something we measure relative to a personal scale. A prisoner is freer than anyone else because he might have felt free in prison at one point. Regardless, this is an emergency. Whether at any given moment we are free is a question that should make us jump out of our cubicles and rolling chairs, go for a walk and, in case alignment is missing and the big picture is screwed, plan ahead, to make it all work again. "To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble."