Late one night recently, I was hanging out with a professor from a local university. By any academic measure, he was a success with a 20-pages-long CV, receiving millions of dollars in funding, international recognition, speaking gigs, and on track for tenure. And while this professor was accomplished and brilliant, he was not happy.
We talked and talked that night about the things he wanted to achieve. How he wanted more respect and passion from his students. More grants, more funding.
I have no idea what it must feel like to be in this person’s shoes, but I do know that once I put my happiness far ahead of myself in much the same way. Like the proverbial carrot on a stick, my happiness would be won only when I’d achieved my goal. But when you do this, happiness is an ever-receding horizon. You will never get there. Because even if you make your goal, it will never feel like enough.
The end doesn’t justify the means.
Happiness is not a goal, but a way.
This is the philosophy I’m bringing with me into 2018, as I return to creating so much more again with writing, art, and music. And while I have things I want to achieve, I know there is no substitute for the joy of creating in the now. That’s all we have really. The holy now.
Just as we created for the fun of it when we were kids. Just as we played and explored and expressed because we could… just because we were alive.
I’ve been learning this lesson slowly throughout this year, and feel that next year, my aliveness, this joyful creating will burn more brightly as I let go of things that do not matter.
We all have obligations and goals in our adult lives, but if we lose our joy, then we are truly lost.
I wish you the joy of being “lost in the present” in the New Year ahead—which is actually the art of being found.