One of the things that I am absolutely afraid of (equally as afraid as I am of sharks and dolphins that look like sharks) is to go through life and not live it to the fullest. Unfortunately I still haven’t figured out what living life to the fullest really means. Does it mean traveling across the globe, getting great joy out of the little things, having one’s own family, a great career, or maybe it’s not having a career at all? I don’t know. And I am not sure I need to have that figured nor do I know if there even is one concrete answer.
Until I or one of you guys figures out the meaning of life, I have tried to live by one simple principle that helps me keep things interesting. Every year I set myself at least one ridiculous goal. The meaning or degree of ridiculous(ness) changes every year, with the only consistent being that one has to be completely baffled by whatever the goal is – meaning it can’t be some teeny weeny goal and it shouldn’t be too expected.
This year my goal has to been to complete an Ironman, which is only my second ridiculous athletic goal (at some point, running a marathon was a ridiculous goal for me). I am not sure about next year’s goal yet but it’s somewhere between writing a book or trying to become a performing stand-up comedian. Other past goals have included buying a home and publishing a book (which was How To Complain For Fun and Profit).
One thing I have learned by doing this, is that it’s important that this year’s ridiculous goal should not interfere with setting a completely different ridiculous goal next year. And hence it’s perfectly acceptable to switch goals mid-year, just make sure they’re at least equally as ambitious (ambitious can equal outlandish). One year I set myself the goal of working on a crab boat in Alaska, which was in direct violation with a) my work permit and b) my ambitions of getting a job in advertising. So I scratched that goal, and ran a marathon instead.
By the way, the first ridiculous goal I remember was to marry the neighbor’s daughter. She was 14, and I was 8. That didn’t work out, despite the what I thought very compelling and persuasive letter I had written on my father’s typewriter. The next year wasn’t much better. I tried to start a newspaper for my neighborhood (maybe 3000 people total) by plagiarizing neighborhood specific content from the regional newspapers (which my grandfather graciously and involuntarily donated) and then typing it up on, yup, my dad’s typewriter. I had most of the widows in my neighborhood signed up but the venture ultimately failed due to my unwillingness to spend money on copies and a quickly diminishing sense of excitement for spending every afternoon hammering away, one finger style, on my father’s typewriter.
Living in America was one of those ridiculous goals at some point, and I’ll be forever thankful that I never gave up on that one.
Ps. It’s not about achieving the goal, it’s about the journey of trying. That much I have learned.