This is a tricky one for obvious reasons – the topics I could span across are infinite. I’m going to continue down a relatively vague path by referring to what we’re given in terms of the things we encounter on a daily basis that come to form the familiarity of our own lives. In other words, what does it mean to feel unsatisfied with the life we appear to have been dealt?
I don’t mean to come across as solemn, bitter, or ungrateful here. I am, and always have been, very lucky in life. However, it dawned on me a long time ago that whereas I appreciate how lucky I am, I rarely feel fulfilled. I know I’m not alone here. Anyone can see, judging by the mass consumerism that has plagued our country and many others, that utter fulfillment is a fairly alien sensation for most. Having said that, on a personal level, I’m not your average consumer. I’m not particularly interested in the latest technologies, I have a strong disliking for most television programs and I’m outraged that companies continue to create new cars when we have already have more than enough to go around. Oh, and I’m becoming increasingly tempted by vegetarianism.
What I’m struggling to grasp is how I can possibly let waves of dissatisfaction start to drag me under when I have absolutely nothing to worry about, not really, in the entire world. Yes, I’m yet to land my dream job, and yes I’d like to be a 32DD, but in the grand scheme of things, I have everything I need. Or do I? I’m beginning to think that this is where the problem might lie. The reason I seem to have an un-fillable hole is probably because my life is, in many ways, being led for me. The fact that there are no major stresses, no days without food or clean water, no major illnesses mean that the quality of my life goes not only without saying, but also without being noticed.
My main issue is that there are too many superficial things flying around to distract us from what’s important. I’ve developed an overwhelming urge to detach myself from all the comforts in my life that I believe I’ve come to take for granted, and similarly, all of the things that I’ve come to believe I can’t live without (and most certainly can), like Facebook, The Internet even. I don’t want to separate myself from civilization or anything like that. More, I’d like to remind myself that I really haven’t got it that bad. At all. Ever.
I saw a slum for the first time in my life last week. It came out of nowhere as I was gazing out of the window of a 4×4 in Cape Verde. My initial reaction was heartbreak, which followed swiftly by a sense of guilt, as I slowly twiddled the arm of my new Ray Bans, which in turn followed by the most shocking of emotions – jealousy. I felt jealous. The women queuing for water beneath an array of suspended plastic pots were all laughing, as were the children than ran about their bare feet. I was a little disturbed by my reaction, and ironically, and reassuringly, encountered a similar one reading Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram shortly after. The truth of the matter was that the people I saw probably appreciate every single thing they own and every experience they share. I know I’m being incredibly naïve to believe that the less you have the happier you might hope to be, but I can’t help but wonder if that is sometimes the case.
I’ve often been known to say that if I died tomorrow, I’d be happy with the life that I’ve lived. More than happy, I’d be satisfied. I know deep down how incredibly blessed I am to have been given the life that I have, and I’ve strived to make the most of it. It’s frustrating to feel a lack of satisfaction in the face of the present and yet rarely in the face of the past. Whilst it’s obvious that I should attempt to appreciate what I have in order to gain absolute satisfaction from my too Western lifestyle, and my future for that matter, I know that it would be easier said than done. So, instead, I endeavor to convert my rogue, unwelcome feelings of dissatisfaction into feelings of motivation and drive, to convert restlessness into doing something useful that might appeal to others feeling the same. Like writing this blog, for example.
As you know by now, I like to combine the idea of fate with the concept that you have to make things happen for yourself beyond a certain point. Which is why I have decided that rather than pick faults with Western civilization, I really need to experience the alternative first. Call me a walking cliché, but clichés tend to exist for one reason only – they resonate what we might deem universal truths. Whether I learn to appreciate my life for what it is, or actually gain the authority to scrutinize it, at least I’ll be distracted from the feeling that something seems to be missing. Somehow I don’t think it’s the release of the iPhone 5.
Just to add, everyone should read Shantaram. Thank you Emily.