Sunday, 17 June 2012

What do you live for?

These kind of thoughts always seem to come to me in the wee hours of the morning when I'm drifting between sleep and consciousness. Why is that? As if I'd really rather be philosophical and contemplative than SLEEPING?!

Still, it's something I've been thinking about a fair amount recently in one way or another. Funny though, it's one of those little phrases that you hear so much it becomes almost meaningless. Until one day you find yourself really asking yourself the question, and suddenly it's the most important answer you ever looked for.

My whole life, I have had visions of what I would like from my own future. It began with
"I want to be a princess and live in a tower with a dragon" until it became clear that real human girls don't actually morph into Disney characters as they grow up. And so then it was:
"When I grow up I want to be an astronaught. Either that or I'm going to open my own cafe and make cakes all day" (at the time, the two options didn't seem so far apart as they do now).

And as my life shuffled on, my ambitions shifted and morphed through vet, fashion designer, unemployed housewife and mother with at least 3 kids, painter, interior designer, illustrator, graphic designer... as if I was playing out my own future in my head until I found enough reasons not to do it.

But then last night it occurred to me clearly for the first time... those things on my list... they're not who I am... they're what I am. And this is where it gets complicated.

I think it's another case of not living by everyone else's rules. Because to me, it seems that we spend the first 25-30 years of our lives living by the question "What do you do?" (it changes from what WILL you do to what DO you do around about year 18-20) before we realise our lives are in our own hands and we start thinking about whether it's actually what we want. As if our jobs are the most important thing in our lives.

Are they?

I mean, we have options here, though very few of us choose to take them. We don't have to spend forty of our ninety-odd waking hours a week trapped in some office or behind some counter. But it's what almost everybody does. And then when we're introduced to someone new, they ask us 'So, what do you do?' and we reply 'Oh, I work in this office in town. It's pretty sweet, I sit in front of this computer screen all day and I get lots of money.'

OK, so maybe that's not it word for word, but the answer will inevitably be something along those lines. I know because it's what I've been doing for the last 8 years... invariably subsituting 'sweet' for 'shite', 'computer screen' for 'till' and 'lots of money' for 'bugger all money'.

And so we all go around introducing ourselves as our jobs. Why is it that we do this? Why, when faced with the question 'So, what do you do?' why don't we reply 'I make music on my computer and then I go out to nightclubs and get wasted and dance for hours and hours and talk rubbish to people. Then when I've got over my hangover I get in my car and I drive to the beach and I go surfing. Then I find pubs that serve gorgeous food and I take my friends there and we laugh and eat and drink all night. Then I curl up in my amazing feather duvet and drink tea and watch anime films. Or I make more music on my computer until I have to go to work.' Doesn't all that say more about a person than which computer or till they sit behind?

The point I am meandering towards is that I am concerned about my own ambitions and my own answer to the question 'what do you do?'

Last night, I realised that the question 'what do you do' is so closely linked to 'what do you live for' and yet at the same time, it's so far apart from it. They should be the same thing, shouldn't they? Everyone can give answers to the question 'what do you live for?' All you need to do is think of the things that make you the happiest. And if you want happiness from your life, shouldn't you be doing what you are living for? But how many people can answer both questions with the same answer?

I thought about what I live for and this is what I came up with:

sunshine and blue skies
cosy pub evenings
travelling to exciting new places
great food
great sex
great hugs
great kisses
curling up in my duvet on a winter day with a mug of coffee and a good book
creating a masterpiece I can be proud of

It seems sad that nobody can make a life from these things, because to live a life, we need money. It's a closed circuit: without money, I couldn't have any of those things in my life, to get money, I have to give some of those things up. There is no job where you can get paid to create beautiful things, go to festivals with someone who's really good in bed, and spend the whole time dancing and eating amazing food, then curl up in the evening with a good book and a duvet.

Oh... on second thoughts... this description is sounding familiar... sounds like my last 2 summers... hmmm. Except that I never made any money, it only barely paid for itself.

And this it the crux of the whole matter for me. Because if I choose to live my life by the things I love, I will never have enough money to buy my own house. I will always be in debt. I will never settle down into a career. I will never be able to buy expensive furniture or electronics. I will never own a pair of designer sunglasses.

So which do I choose?

Well the choice is made I suppose. Here I am living it. I never liked designer sunglasses anyway.

they're just not me...

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