Three Little Words

April 14, 2015 9:00 am

Three little words: more, more, more. The more generation have been taught to reach for more – more success, more money – to want more, believe we deserve more. Well, here are three more words: it’s all fabrication.

We perpetually seek promotions, trusting that we will finally arrive at our elusive ‘happy place’ where we will eventually, after decades of striving, stretching, sacrificing, be content. We have been indoctrinated to believe that success is paramount, that success equates to climbing the career ladder for infinity, that we can, and therefore should be, anything, and everything, we want to be. This cliché, far from freeing us, has caged us: we have become ensnared within our own minds. The problem with the propaganda we have been peddled is that we never arrive at that ‘happy place’: the more career success we attain, the more we want and the more that we climb, continually flinging ourselves at the grater that is work, watching as inch after inch of ourselves is shaved away until the real us no longer exists, and in its place resides a duller, more resigned and less hopeful spectre.

Nela & Boris at Lighthouse Point complex - Collingwood, Ontario (August 2nd, 2008)

In these promotions we seek solace in money. Money makes the world go round; we hear this platitude so frequently as to internalise its mercenary message and smother our real needs and wants with it. We spent our teenaged years satisfying our inner demon with the promise that one day, when we are grown up, we will buy all of those things the fiend within has been desperately yearning after. The longed for day finally arrives when we receive our first glorious pay check as a newly minted graduate. However, as teenagers we did not anticipate the extortionate rent we would have to pay, nor the inexorable water, heating or council tax bills: the check dwindles before our naïve eyes. Yet, there is just enough left to buy that new gadget, that glamorous pair of shoes, that sought-after ticket. However, this stuff only feeds the demon, making him corpulent and covetous, thus more things are needed to satiate his hunger. So, we seek a promotion, to earn more money, to buy more expensive versions of the stuff that we do not need – because let’s face it, previously whilst we did not shop at designer stores, we had clothes on our backs, food in our bellies and time to enjoy both. Now that we are promoted we can, when we are not at work, because it seems might as well stop paying that extortionate rent as we basically live at work now, exhibit our brand-spanking new watch to our friends. On some deep, innate level we know that we do not need these things and yet, in this society we do, so strong is the current created by the advertising agencies, the current which pulls in so much of the population. However, this new feed is not enough: the demon has become omnipotent and we need more and more and more things, all of which are more and more and more expensive to assuage that craving and in return we willingly hand over our time, our relationships, our lives.

We are taught to get promoted, get rich, what about being happy; isn’t that a far more worthwhile state to search for? Why do we spend seventeen plus years learning how to get ahead in the career market and comparatively no time at all attempting to understand how to maintain a healthy relationship or how to accept ourselves? Why do we feel that searching for happiness is somehow less worthwhile than searching for a job? Now, I am not saying that we should shun qualifications and shut up shop on our careers. What I am saying is that we should see people, and ourselves especially, as complex organisms who have emotions and desires which extend beyond our newly defined notions of success.

This week I heard a story which made me re-evaluate my life. It was of a man who wanted to trek through the rainforest. His party hired local guides to lead them through the dense foliage unscathed. On the first day the combined group charged through the forest and covered many, many miles. They lay down to rest that night, exhausted. The next morning the man got up and was dumbfounded to see all of the guides sitting around, recuperating. The man asked the head guide what was happening and he replied with: ‘Yesterday we went very quickly and travelled too far. Today we are resting and waiting for our souls to catch up’. I have pelted through the past twenty six years of my life, now I am slowing down and waiting for my soul to catch up. Now, I want less.

Sarah Norman

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