I was scrolling though Facebook this morning when a man asked me this question. There’s something wrong with the settings on my page – if I so much as brush past a video, it starts playing. Sometimes a good number of minutes later, scaring the crap out of me.
I had just been battling to turn down a video of a poor bloody chameleon who was being encouraged by her owner to pop soap bubbles (when in reality she was desperately stretching for something to cling onto so she could escape. He had her standing on his hand – not a normal position for a chameleon to be in – people are such twats sometimes.)
But I digress. The voice carried on:
“Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, “we’re getting out of college and we have the faintest idea what we want to do”. So I always ask the question, “what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?”
I was struck – I had spent some time asking myself this same question over the weekend. Let me say this before I start – I am really happy right now. Life is simple, it’s busy, it has cause and purpose and enough money to keep things comfortable … and I have no complaints. When I was away last week, great as it was having four days on my own in a nice hotel, I looked forward to coming home. Dog, kids, work, family, pals, Cape Town … all good things. All calling me home. But – I am an anticipator of change. I have been around long enough to know it will come when it does, and when it does come, I want to be ready. So I have been asking myself: “what do I want to do next.” Because let’s face it – whatever it is, is likely to be my last act before I retire. Or die.
I have a general plan, one that needs some work. And some finance – but the minute I start looking at money, I start getting practical and pragmatic. And stop dreaming. So his voice was an invitation to start again.
The piece is called: What if Money was no Object. It is a speech by the English Philosopher Alan Watts. Watch it here – it’s worth the three or four minutes you will need. If you don’t have the time – I have included a transcript below.
I’m not going want to add anything. I want to let it settle in for me. For you. And see what comes of it. Let me know.
Alan Watts: “Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do?
When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much.
That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.
See what we are doing, is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lives we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch, and no vomit … it never gets there.
And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question: What do I desire?”