What do you want? What pleases you? Who do you think you are? Where do you want to end up?
How often do you ask those questions of yourself? I figure in good times very little, because there seems no need to. It’s only when times get stiff that the questions arise. And maybe at a certain stage of life. As it happens those two conditions coincide in me right now.
I’ve set myself this month to figure out and articulate some of the answers to those questions. Given my circumstances it seems a reasonable idea. Easier said than done, but I have to move on. I have to focus on a time past this. It’s where I am to in my mind, the time is ripe.
You change as you get older. I seem to have this conversation more and more these days with my peers. As I incline towards another style of life it seems so to do many others. I’m treading a well trodden path, the path of the middle-aged man who feels one day that there is some lack. For years we’ve toiled hard and competed and driven ourselves forward and constructed a kind of life, perhaps even a very good life – but one day we sense something is missing. Something that is ours, mine, personal.
Some go off and buy a Harley Davidson. Others make cheese. A few go mad perhaps, but the majority just endure it.
I’m one of those who want to make cheese. Perhaps literally, perhaps not. I’m happy to make wine, or create in some other way, the important thing seems to be to get back to some kind of basic standard: to be creative, to craft something using your senses, your judgement, and to do so directly, with your own hands.
It doesn’t take Jung to figure out that this is a reaction to the pre-packaged, manufactured, artificial world we find ourselves in. The allure of glittering career pales year by year. We see through it, the phony corporate platitudes, the meaningless meetings, the hoary office politics, the questionable business ethics, and the striving for titles that add up to nothing. And for what? What do we produce? If anything, we’re just a small cog in a machine that might, somewhere distant, spit out some tangible outcome.*
I know that sounds cynical. Is it? I tend to think its a realistic appraisal of most corporate careers. It seems to be the consensus with my peers. That’s not to say it’s miserable – there are things I love about it, but only when I have it on my terms. It’s all so much nothing, that the thought of planting a vine, nurturing it, and one day making wine of it, seems like a utopian ideal.
This may be a passing notion. It’s what I feel now though, and it’s something that has grown stronger these last couple of years.
I like food. I love books. Art provokes me. I feel the need to write. I like to ask questions, and to search for answers. Now I am inclined also to get my hands dirty in the production of something real. If these things are true then if I am to be truly happy I should be moving in a direction whereby these elements are vital to me day on day.
That’s the goal now, far, far away. I put it out there, make it so.
* I wrote something that touches on this some years ago: https://hieronymous.net/2011/08/13/sense-from-nonsense/.