It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves
I read a spot-on article recently that summed up how I feel about life. I was relieved (or perhaps disturbed… no, it was relieved) to find out that others I know also feel this way. We’re the main attraction in our very own shows, each more delusional than the last. It’s both depressing and delightful to feel that there is such freedom and yet to be weighed down by the amount choice is ridiculous. I’ve always envied people who have known exactly what they want to do with their lives. If I could live forever with a relatively young and healthy body, I would. Vampire me up so that I have time to dedicate myself to knowing everything about everything; musician, actor, scientist, explorer, writer, astronaut, engineer, pilot, adventurer, genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. This mindset wastes time and stresses me out but I need it, like a crack addict needs the powder, like old people need nostalgia. I’m a confused centre wrapped in a squishy, pale, over-caffeinated goo with a strange looking face slapped on the front. I’m a single part in the great human production line of procreation who developed a low self-esteem and a superiority complex. I’m fucking amazing. I’m fucking ridiculous. And I’m fucking lost.
Luckily, in a delightful 15 minutes of YouTubing (which I highly recommend you watch), Tim Minchin’s Occasional Address to UWA’s graduation class was on hand to illuminate.
Oftentimes, graduation speeches revolve around the beginnings of a journey, the end of one chapter and the commencement of another. Life after graduation is much the same as life before, only with more money for drinking and less time to do so. Tim’s advice was refreshingly dark and, more importantly, accurate. Taking on his advice would help to solve a lot of angst and trepidation held by Gen Y – if only we could believe it. I, for one, have come to realise that many of these life lessons are valid and valuable… but that doesn’t mean I don’t think my life is the centre of some miraculous wonderland where I’m a capable, charming and enchanting Alice. Where the mystical rabbit hole of success, fame and fulfilment is only just around the next corner if I work hard enough and look hard enough or stand up quick enough so that my head spins in such a way that I notice the magic I’m searching for. The point of all this (if there actually is a point at all) is that I’ve decided to take note of the Minchin Nine, specifically his first lesson:
You don’t have to have a dream.
As a typical example of Gen Y, I have many dreams, all which involve glory for the Me Empire. It’s been a fundamental building block of mine for a long time that you must have dreams and then you must follow them to completion and, should you not finalise that dream, you shall be branded failure and be sent to burn in a very special level of hell which is reserved for child molesters, people who talk at the theatre and those who set themselves rediculous standards that they fail to uphold.
However, he offers the alleviating idea of being micro-ambitious: that is, focusing on what’s in front of you with pride and passion but not so much that you miss something on the way to where you’re going. He suggests following a direction that feels good, looks good, tastes good, remembers how you like your steak cooked and respects you in the morning.
I recently got back from three months overseas with the plan to jump into a Masters degree, get a high paying job and live the sweet, caramel centred life. But my successful interview sent a wave of horror through me. I hadn’t signed myself up for anything and yet I was more stressed than the time a dentist shoved a live Black and Decker drill into my mouth to smash a obnoxious wisdom tooth. After thinking about this odd reaction I had epiphanies over ice-cream sandwiches. I wanted time to follow my passion. The whole of my happy drive is fuelled by music: playing it, listening to it, writing it, absorbing it. For years I’ve wanted to try and make a go at music, both as a career and to refuel my happy drive, all I needed to do was realise that the time was now. That this was my shiny micro-ambition that’s been floating on the periphery of my scientific career. Now was the time put it in front of me. All it took was three months abroad, a Tim Minchin speech, some sugar loaded desserts and a panic attack to realise it.
If only all problems could be solved so easily.