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What’s the taste of growth in your life?
Is it fulfilling? Or do you feel halfway to the next milestone? Or growth is just not there?
Roger, in episode S6-E1 (21’54’’) of Mad Men, gave a wonderful image of what life can feel, at some point.
“It’s like you see a door. The first time you come to it you say, ‘Oh, what’s on the other side of the door?’ Then you open a few doors. Then you say, ‘I think I want to go over that bridge, this time. I’m tired of doors.’ Finally, you go through one of these things, and you come out the other side, and you realize that’s all there are—doors and windows and bridges and gates. And they all open the same way, and they all close behind you.”
For the lucky ones who experience growth in their life, maybe for a period, some milestones, badges, experiences follow one another and seem to amount to something.
You’re halfway between the pride of what you obtained, and the achievement of your next goal.
The sequence of these events and the gaps between them is called life.
But if you have been successful, at least in opening part of your doors, you start to feel that the best of your life is not there. And that probably it’s not behind the next door.
Who put those doors there? Without getting spiritual, we realize that those doors were just put there by conventions, or by our fake self.
Family, society, work, our environment in general, all have conventions, beliefs, needs. Of course, they want you to comply. They need you to be their idea of you. You can’t hope differently in this kind of world. A better world is possible, but we’re not there yet.
But it’s not really the others’ fault. Most of the time, we have a choice to steer, to make things differently, to set our own goals. Instead, we choose our doors based on pride, on the need for acceptance, on material attractions, on laziness, on greediness, on false expectations.
And we walk that path as if it were our life.
Years pass, and our life starts to seem like a sequence of passages, and now that we are on the other side, we’re left with so little of what we expected and are disappointed. Maybe, some passages could have been chosen differently.
That’s where the “journey” narrative comes in. You should enjoy the journey, and that’s true. Passages and gaps are your life. If you don’t enjoy them, there’s nothing left to enjoy. Nothing left to live.
Still, that’s not enough. Contemplating life that passes may not be your way. You’ve likely only one life, at least of this kind.
You need to cross doors. But, if there’s something you want to achieve that matters for you, you have to choose those doors.
Is your dissatisfaction caused by life being a sequence of passages? Or it’s more likely caused by choosing the wrong passages? Or by not choosing, and let them choose you?
We can see life with a purpose or without a purpose. We have this freedom.
Lack of purpose in your environment — or conditioning purposes which do not belong to you — shouldn’t be an excuse for the lack of purpose in your life.
It may take time and courage, of course. Purposes aren’t freebies. They have prices but are not on shelves.
But once you have a glance of your purpose, you have the opportunity to set your direction, at least in part.
The key is choosing the doors that matter for you, not the doors you’re expected to open.
What matters for you may include the needs of who’s dear to you, but don’t take them as an alibi for avoiding courageous choices.
Is working on your next promotion one of those doors? Is the lake house another one? Maybe yes, maybe no. It’s up to you. But one door opened means another door — at the same time — left closed.
You have the opportunity to go through a limited number of doors, in your lifetime. Chances are that, if you’re really realizing this, you’ve already opened a good part of your quota.
Life can be a meaningless sequence or a purposeful sequence.
What’s the door that matters, for you?