Existential crisis of meaning. Four years in Chapter Three. Leaving Westhaven. A new life is coming, but what sort? Well dude, we just don't know.
So here's this table from a slide from a presentation my business partner sent me as part of our ongoing project to raise the level of our entrepreneurial game. It's about people's motivations for starting businesses:
|"the pitch, the deal."||"the big idea, partnership"|
|sprint, short run||maration, long run|
|obsess on competition||obsess on customers|
|aristocracy of founder(s)||meritocracy, best idea wins|
|financial statements||mission, values statement|
|bosses of wolf packs||mentors, coaches of teams|
|the "deferred life" plan||a whole life (that works)|
|lust for making money||lust to make meaning (& money)|
It should come as no surprise to anyone that my heart lines up firmly in the Missionary camp, but what kills me about this table is how much my actions are in the other. Beliefs, they say, are habits of action. What you do is who you are, regardless of what you say you think.
This is a cause of no small consternation. Obviously without the "whole life (that works)" bit things are unsustainable, but beyond that — beyond the fraying social ties, the softening physique — there's a sort of spiritual death that begins taking hold. Operating outside my actual motivational framework is a game of diminishing returns; ultimately ending in who knows what, but probably some kind of dark rock bottom indeed.
The problem is that my "actual" desires are vague, without form, and void. Darkness lies upon the face of the deep, but underneath the perpetual engine of ambition cranks away. I don't believe I'll ever be satisfied — and to be honest I sort of like that fact — but blind groping hungry ambition isn't an especially attractive or effective state to be in, just wanting to "be somebody," like an overgrown infant, crying in anger, gumming at the world.
It's a huge complex to unravel, full of compromises and contradictions. The other day I got sucked into engaging with a canvasser for Greanpeace down on Market street. Nice enough hippy kid, kinda stoned, with a pretty righteous come-on about how if we didn't act now, all would be lost. I had to turn him down and be on my way, but it made me wonder why/how/where I would make up for that.
And on the other side of the ledger, for all I've done in the past four years I've achieved some modest self-made-man status. Feels like a B+. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing to be free of debt and have a little savings, but beyond the basic bail-out freedom that gets me, money fails to strongly motivate. It's not going to get me any real power or influence at this rate, and when it comes down to it I'm culturally allergic to the petit bourgeoisie lifestyle towards which I listlessly trend.
I would like to say I'd rather be a bohemian pauper genius — a bikeman or beatnik or something or other — but the problem is I'm not sure if that's true. I've lost some of the starry-eyed optimistic bravado, don't feel the universe swirling around me much these days. When the Girth wants to call me out, he tells me I'm just another "aging hipster." Sometimes it does feel like this, like I'm past my prime and I should just adjust my expectations downward, settle.
Fuck that noise though. "Be in love with yr life," is one of the better maxims I know, and I'm not really there. I don't know what I love, just what I'm obligated to do, so I live more and more like a Mercenary, a Missionary who's lost his faith. I'd be happier to be poor and on a higher road, but somewhere along I lost my way it seems.
It's a bad scene, no doubt. This is why I'm not writing so much, I think.
The upside is that there's some conscious self-examination happening. Better to be actively engaged in the pitched battle of spiritual crisis than just... struggling.