One of the enemies of sound, lifelong motivation is a rather childish conception we have of the kind of concrete, describable goal toward which all of our efforts drive us. We want to believe that there is a point at which we can feel that we have arrived. We want a scoring system that tells us when we’ve piled up enough points to count ourselves successful.
So you scramble and sweat and climb to reach what you thought was the goal. When you get to the top you stand up and look around and chances are you feel a little empty. Maybe more than a little empty.
You wonder whether you climbed the wrong mountain.
But life isn’t a mountain that has a summit, Nor is it — as some suppose — a riddle that has an answer. Nor a game that has a final score.
Life is an endless unfolding, and if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our own potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves. By potentialities I mean not just intellectual gifts but the full range of one’s capacities for learning, sensing, wondering, understanding, loving and aspiring.
This has the flavor of Alan Watts’s comparison of life to music.
“Life is an endless unfolding.” Lovely.
It’s common to see life as a mission to get somewhere, a journey with a shining final destination somewhere out there just beyond the horizon.
But, you’ll never get there, because there is no there there.
The journey, of course, is the destination. You will never arrive.
Or, actually, you’re constantly arriving.