Often defined as an over-consumption or over indulgence of something, gluttony lurks in the best of us, often rearing its ugly head (and cavernous jaws) in inconspicuous places where it catches us off-guard.
Almost always, we are left worse off than before the encounter. And the costs are often not that obvious, especially at first.
I thought I was more or less immune to something like this. I’d dropped alcohol and tobacco consumption on a whim at the start of this year, holding strong when the urges arise; I take breaks from ingesting food for days on end each month, sometimes keeping liquids at arm’s length for a time; I even cut peanut butter for this month which, believe it or not, is turning out to be much more difficult than other substances.
All in, I thought I didn’t have to deal with this shortcoming. I thought I was strong enough.
Over the past few weeks, close friends and family members have been pointing out how I’m giving in to this “I want way more than I need” mindset in life.
Things like wanting to make ten times my current income. This translates into as pure a greed as I could get to; but underpinning this is also the over-indulgence in certain genres of content, such as productivity, passive income, business development, and such.
Or wanting to learn and do everything by myself. And by everything, I mean everything–if I ship an app, I want to develop the entire stack myself, build the website, market the launch, manage the sales. If I fly overseas, I want to be the pilot of my own plane. That kind of everything. If I own a house, I want to design it, build it, and do the landscaping around it. That kind of everything.
Not that such things are bad or wrong. The things one can do (or does) with these two directions may produce much value and improvement, both in one’s self and on the market.
The issue is that I have been treating them as an end in themselves.
Picture life as a puzzle to be put together, with experiences, skills, relationships, and accomplishments as pieces.
Instead of being grateful for each puzzle piece I have and putting it to the best use before reaching for another one, I give each new piece a cursory glance, snap and kick it around to see if it breaks easily. Then, I either discard it back into the box or put it aside “to be explored later”, and reach for the next piece.
With this second approach, I get to see a lot of different pieces, and have many ideas for how different pieces can fit together (did I mention this puzzle shape-shifts according to your thoughts?), which is all fine and dandy.
But there is one big problem.
The puzzle is never completed.
And that is more or less where I see myself headed, if I continue the kind of living I have been experimenting with the past five weeks.
It does not help that I have a hyper-active mind that’s constantly thinking up new ideas, experiments, and things to do, paired with a bias toward action. Or that I am still in my early twenties, where naïvety is born of lack of experience and an over-idealistic conception of reality. I am grateful I have (and am) these things; but it seems that the combination of such forces are steadily and slowly bulldozing down a life I actually want to live.
It is tricky to balance the present with a desired future sometimes, when what you’re doing now supports you living the life you want in the future. At least in theory. (Really, this is the classic “rich business guy and poor fisherman” story all over again.)
What is intensely ironic in my case is, the life I aim towards does not require much in terms of finances; nor does it require that I learn a whole bunch of things beforehand. But in chasing after these two things, I cease to live as I envision--all the while nothing is stopping me from living so yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
(Whenever I admit I am imperfect, stubborn, or not the smartest, I cannot help but mean it–it is absolutely true. Just look at how the above equations work out, and think of the kind of mind that would choose to go after the bits of tinsel just ahead while they walk on streets of gold.)
The costs of so choosing, too, are enough to make one bite into one’s hat out of sheer frustration.
You have two lives, they say; the second one begins when you realize you only have one. To spend it by doing things just so you can do other things is to sabotage yourself on an almost cosmic level. Why not just do “the other things”? Either way, life passes on; and what you have done, you have done. What you have not done, you have not done.
Which leads me to the thought that currently keeps me awake at night: How then do I figure out what to learn, when I am pretty much interested and can get passionate about just about anything?
- There are things I’m interested in.
- Then there are things I want to learn, and actually do something with.
- Then there are things I’d sacrifice (something of value to myself) to learn and do.
- And then there are things that, in additional to all the above, I’d break into tears if I realize there’s a way I could actually learn. (This has happened before, but very rarely.)
Perhaps only the things in the last two categories are worth my time. I really only have one life, after all. After some thought and calculations, I realize it is not worth my time being a glutton. 🙂