In these chaotic times what has kept me sane is looking at the "how" of the task before me, not "what" task I'm doing. A recent example is that we're moving our office and I've just gone through 200 boxes of papers. At first I was more than grumpy and in full resistance to the entire endeavor. All I could see was a gargantuan pile of "stuff" to be sorted. I was looking at the "whole" of the task. But then I just started doing it, one box at a time. As I moved from "what" to "how" I began to enjoy it. I found some delightful gems within the boxes that are well worth keeping and the satisfaction of recycling and shredding what is no longer needed. It has been an en-lightening experience. I don't know what I shall do with the rest of my life, but I know the present moment is all I have and the attitude I bring to it matters. You brought up Nietzsche. Here is another quote I just read in the current "Rolling Stone" magazine in an interview of Stephen Colbert. "Whatever happens to you, fall in love with it, because there's really no other option. You can decide to rail against the fates. You can think, 'Oh, I'm a victim!' or 'Oh woe is me!' But it happened. So love it. And see what the good is coming out of it."
Whoops, I reference the wrong person in my last post. The Nietzsche quote was pulled from an article of David Duchovny, not Stephen Colbert, "Rolling Stone" Sept. 17, 2009 Pg. 68 However, Stephen is on the cover.
No matter the source, it's a nice pragmatic quote
I have nothing to do and nothing I want to do. I never had a tomorrow. I was always fighting the bad to do good; to not hurt others; everyone else came before me. I want to be gone, but if I do that, I throw away the feelings of others. My parents, both alcoholics, abusive. I am a female and my mother sexually abused me starting at the age of 8. I had a 4 yr relationship w/a very bad msw - she actually did to me what my parents did, only she was a professional and I went to her for help. lost my job after 9 years, went on ssdi. no friends, no siblings that talk to me. i'm 58. have 3 grown kids, 3 grandchildren, all away with lives of their own...the way it should be. husband of 33 yrs is great, but doesn't understand the pain i am in; the desparate urge to be gone. tired of this f'in world. nothing to do; nothing to be; nothing worthwhile; no purpose. can't be with people; can't volunteer.....gawd, i hope the end is real soon.
Breaking out of keeping all this to yourself is the first step and in posting your comment you have taken it. BRAVO! I am no expert, but it occurs to me that your husband, whom you clearly love and respect, might rise to the occasion if you truly shared your plight with him. Also, there are hot lines for depression and the ER in your local hospital. Call them if you're suicidal. Members of your extended family, of which you are now the matriarch, would be devastated if they lost you. And you may yet be able to use your experience to help your children and grandchildren. Above all, continue reaching out and you will discover people who reach back, and bit by bit you may discover something worthwhile. One more thought/question: are you sure your husband won't understand, at least in part? Please do give him a try.
A google search led me here. Obviously I'm asking this question. Like everyone else, I didn't have an easy childhood but I was resilient.
I decided I wanted to become the champion / protector I never had. I wanted to save the world - or at least save good kids who were in difficult circumstances. I had it all figured out.
First I became strong - almost absurdly so - as a 14 year old I was routinely beating grown men as a powerlifter and wrestler. Second was to pick up some credentials (so people would listen) so I crushed college as a student athlete, served in the military, went to a top three law school and on to a top firm.
It wasn't easy and my propensity to rescue people proved costly - I rescued one in particular who almost destroyed me - others just cost me money and tears. But I didn't die - at least not physically - but something inside me just isn't there anymore.
Perhaps I'm disenchanted with the decisions I've made. I believed in karma but the more I do for others the more I seem to get hurt - as if no good deed goes unpunished. Makes me wish I could tell the whole world to f-off but it is in my nature to help others. I'm a caretaker and rescuer - just built that way unfortunately.
I thought law was a path to saving the world but it seems the liars, game players, and those who get off on F-ing with others thrive in it. The constant BS of it just drains me. I'm not totally honest and fair but I've always tried to be. That seems to put me at a huge disadvantage. I like to solve problems and move forward. I love to see growth and progress. I hate the games and the posturing - especially from intellectually inferior little twits whom I'd like to (and easily could) snap in half - yet they seem omnipresent in this profession.
In short, I'm tired. Rescuing adult human beings never works. Law is great for game-playing people who like to be "right" and bill hours but don't really care if anything actually gets accomplished. Perhaps that is why it just seems a waste to me. Looking back, I wish I'd been an engineer, or doctor, or done something that is actually constructive. But I can't go back in time.
So, I'm trying to figure out what is next. None of the answers really excite me. They all look bland. Anyone out there with some life experience (old dudes / dude-ettes) want to offer some brilliant advice? If so, I'm all ears.
Your post sounds like everything i have been trying to figure out in my head. Did you ever find the answer. I sure would like to hear the answer so I could stop all of this chaos in my mind. I also have found saving people does not work. They don't want to be saved they just want to talk about it but not really do anything about it. So I'm left with this ambition and desire pent up inside of me and the only thing that really gives me any satisfaction in life but nobody wants it. NOW WHAT!
I find your comment remarkable. You've found something to do with the rest of your life and it's exactly what you've been doing with your life up to now: you want to help and you have and you will. It seems that you can do no other. Just don't expect the world to acknowledge it right away. But, in the end you will be appreciated by those you help and by those you try to help. Just do it, as you have in the past. A remarkable life story and I sense that it will become even more so.
I found your post quite compelling. I stumbled upon it by doing a Google search. I'll start off by telling you a little about me.
I am a 31 year old male living in Washington DC. I am originally from Fayetteville, NC. I have been living here since June of 2004. I moved here about a month after graduation and began working as an Electrical Engineer (I have dual Bachelors of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics). About two and a half years later, I transitioned to working as a Cost Analyst. I have been doing this line of work up 'til now....and I HATE IT.
I feel like all of my life I have been on "auto pilot". I have done what was borderline interesting (and excelled) and more importantly, what OTHERS felt I should do in order to be successful in this world. I have my degrees, moved out on my own (even before graduating), and acquired a good paying job. By all accounts, I am living the "American Dream".
But, what do I have to show for it, other than a nice apartment full of nice things with the convenience of city living. When I sleep at night, I am unfulfilled, unmotivated, and, most of all, unhappy. On a side note, I have also come through a lot of personal stories that I won't get into (but not nearly as dramatic as some of the issues quoted above) that also play a part in this. At 31, I can now say that, through it all, I am self-confident, able to be who I am, and happy in my own skin. But as a consequence, I am even more and more convinced that what I'm doing isn't right for me. But this begs the question: What is? I have no clue...NONE. And this is what bothers me the most.
I am not getting any younger. I am tired of living a life unfulfilling. Part of me wants to say "F*CK IT!!" and quit. But I can't do that. Not only do I have bills, but, to be perfectly honest, there is a standard of living that I'd like to maintain. I am perfectly willing to give that up, but at the very least I'd like to have food on the table and a roof over my head. What would really be nice is if I could accomplish all of that doing what I loved! What an awesome existence that would be!
I have entertained a few concepts such as modeling, acting/entertainment, blogging, bartending, writing a book, etc... I do think I have many natural talents such as the ability to listen well, be objective, level-headed, and a peace maker. I think I am not limited to just engineering and mathematics. I am beginning to cultivate a whole new side of myself that's more "artsy" and expressive and even spiritual. But, the trick is, how do I use these attributes to find something I'm passionate about? Sigh...
As you can clearly see, I am lost, and don't know where to go. I believe all that I need is within me; I just need a push in the right direction. I notice that it has been a while since the last post so I am hoping you are in a position to respond. Thanks for giving me a venting platform and be blessed!
Like you, my education was mainly in math and science, and I always sensed that although that was good, there was something that would be closer to my heart. I didn't really put my finger on it till my late 30s -- and you're only 31! So, cheer up, there's time. Pay super close attention to what warms your heart regardless of whether it pays, brings more status, or seems to have a future. Just look for little things that feel really worthwhile. Then do a wee bit more of that thing every week, month, year. It may just build into something substantial enough both to pay your way and to fulfill your desire for meaning. Be careful not to overlook what's right in your lap because, having lived 31 years, you have probably already been inching toward the thing that will bring a sense of self-realization. Once I found my thing, I noticed that I'd touched on it many times prior to identifying it as my purpose for being. And I've been doing it ever since. I posted a blog at PT yesterday that describes what I found and continue to pursue. If you're interested, it's titled "Rankism: The Poison that Destroys Relationships." My work is to build a dignity movement that overcomes rankism. Good luck to you.
Your response is beyond awesome! "Whenever you come to a fork in the road, take it." That quote is so deep, yet very appropriate. I really and truly needed to read this. I am still on the path to discovery my passion, but now I am more confident then ever that I will get there, and sooner than I think! Thank you very much!! :D
Hey there Anonymous D, thanks so much for letting me know that my words struck a chord with you. I can tell from the passion in your brief note that you are unstoppable. -- Robert Fuller
I have recently moved home to England, after living in America for 22 years, after becoming a widow a little over two years ago. I am 64 and I don't have a clue what to do with the rest of my life! I feel stuck. I have good health and feel there must be something I can do, but have no idea what.
I just thought I would put this out there to the universe and maybe a thought will come back.
By the way this post led me to your TED talk on "Rankism" which I enjoyed listening to, thanks.
Robert W. Fuller, Ph.D., former president of Oberlin College, is an authority on rankism and dignity.