Bus One Seven: Fueling My Fire
"A resolution to get off my ass"
By Roderick Armageddon
Here's a recent IM exchange between me and a colleague; this exchange led to my developing this article:
Roderick: "If you cannot convincingly explain how what you do serves human needs, you are courting failure in life and business." Merrill, not to get all heavy on you in these last few days of 04, but in lieu of this quote, how do you justify our work?
Merrill: Would you say technological breakthroughs have led to progress for the human race?
Merrill: Would we be better off still in the caves or are modern advances/conveniences such as email, computers, genetic research, transportation, sharing of knowledge on a global scale, etc. good for the quality of life?
Roderick: While all those things are grand and indeed much better than malaria, the plague and the Pony Express, with them have come the glut of capitalism and man's constant craving for more and its subsequent waste. Have we improved life for humanity, or simply life for ourselves and the "chosen few" who are so lucky to call the United States of Bush their home?
Merrill: We are not the only country that has benefited. India in the last five years, Western Europe, China, Korea. There will always be winners and losers in civilizations. The goal is to balance democracy, economic progress, technological advancements with ensuring some level of minimal subsistence for the have-nots and providing them with the ability to advance beyond their current economic status. A formula has yet to be developed that reaches this goal.
Roderick: Good points, indeed. I have to noodle on these comments before adding them to my queue of important arguments for justifying my further work in an industry that seems so removed from doing "good" for more than myself -and my family, which of course is now extremely important.
Merrill: Good luck with that moral/existential debate.
I recently came to the conclusion that 31 years into my life, I wasn't where I wanted to be, or better yet, where I needed to be in order to be the best I could be. Have you ever looked up from steering wheel and wondered just where the Hell you are? I imagine we all have at one time or another. Sometimes when the road is relatively free of obstructions, we keep our foot on the gas, making a conscious decision to forge ahead. Whether it's a fear of change or a fear of the unknown, the reasons behind this lead-footed behavior vary widely. Regardless, it's not uncommon and likely the reason many people (especially men) wake up on their 45th birthday and scream bloody murder, running off to the local Chevy dealer to pick up a new Corvette.
Now that I see the horizon and the car has come to a complete stop, what's next? Trust me; recognition is only half the battle. Taking action is the toughest part. With a new home, new job, new daughter and all-around new life on the line what's next? The answer is simple: quit wasting time, Skippy, the sun is setting and there's not another fuel station anywhere in sight.
This sounds simple enough. Look up from the wheel, map out your trajectory, adjust your seat and forge onto the correct road. While the tactics appear relatively straightforward, just what the heck is the correct road? No one ever answered that one for me. They didn't teach that in college. Or maybe they did, but I was too busy screwing around to hear the meaning behind the words.
Alas, the answer to this question comes back to that quote:
"If you cannot convincingly explain how what you do serves human needs, you are courting failure in life and business."
This is an excellent foundation for mapping out your life's trajectory. Just what are you currently doing and how is it really serving human needs? Not human wants, mind you, but real needs. If you can very clearly map back your work to directly serving human needs -in as few steps as possible-you are truly living a good life. Theoretically this is an excellent starting point, but is it truly realistic? Will it lead you to happiness? My guess is that it will definitely play a significant role in bringing about some sense of bliss -and likely more than the typical 9-5.
The bigger question of happiness and purpose is one that each and every one of us has to answer on our own. I'm searching for the answer right now, to help put my life on a new track in 2005. Not that my old track was a bad track, but it just wasn't the best track for me. Now is the time for each and every one of us to find our track. Search deep within yourself, oh gentle Anvil reader, and find that trajectory. Map it out, refill your Big Gulp and hop back in the buckets. This time, keep both eyes on the road.