Discontent as yardstick

Monday, November 1, 2010

3:15 AM. I’m feeling a little disconnected. [Insert various complaints and discouragements here.] Well, guys, familiar refrain. Too many years, too little done.

A little discontentment is no bad thing. It measures the distance between what exists and what you would prefer to exist. As we have said, emotion is a gradient between the two.

Suppose you were to feel entirely satisfied with your career – using that word in its widest sense. You think, wouldn’t that be wonderful. Well, maybe so, maybe no. How can you have a long trajectory and a long distance traveled, a lot of unknown ground explored, and still be equally happy with where you started and where you ended up (still unknown to you, of course) and where you went in between times? The very discontent you feel is the discontent that propelled you.

Ultimately you can only judge your life – if you insist on judging your life – one of two ways, that is to say, from one of two directions. You can say “all is well” and look at it with the interest you would bring to another’s life, or you can say “how embarrassing,” or “how tragic,” or “how wasted” – all of them variants on the theme of “all is not well.” Ultimately, well or not well is the polarity that you judge anything from. It has less to do with what happens than with what you determine to be your standpoint.

“All is well” works for me. Thanks for the reminder.

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