I had a happy thought sitting down to my table here at Klipchuck Campground.
Months ago (April 14th, to be exact) I remember sitting on a bench at George Washington’s boyhood home in Virginia thinking about where I’d been and where I’m going, and now I’m camped out clear across the country in the state which bears his name doing just about the same thing.
Taking it even further gets me even more content.
The bottle opener I used was a gift from my Aunt Kris in Chicago. My 5th pair of sunglasses, laid upside down on the table, are from Wyoming or Eastern Montana, I can’t be sure. My National WWII Museum hat is from New Orleans, and the very pen I write this entry with was absent-mindedly stolen from the galley cashier on the ferry ride over to Isle Royale National Park.
This is fun.
This is thrilling, lonesome, and sharply revealing fun.
I have had time to think, and while most of my thoughts are less than profound, there are a few internal conversations which loom patiently, waiting for me to visit at my leisure and/or frustration. I push them away when I am least capable to do so, and I pull them close when I wax philosophical.
Of those recurring thoughts (and when I say “those” I mean the two that actually come to mind) one monster in particular stands out. We stalk each other, both of us sharing in the roles of predator and prey, bobsledding around a Möbius Strip through my mind.
“What is the right amount of ambition?”
Now, you could say “Oh – well, depends on the situation – depends on the person..” but that response receives low marks from me, because I am a specific person who has been placed in and self-driven to a specific situation. What’s the right amount ambition for me?
In my humble understanding, this also happens to be the greatest inconsistency between Western & Eastern Philosophy. The West seeks to elevate “self” and The East seeks to overcome “self”. My experiences this far have led me to believe that for practical purposes this dichotomy is best viewed as a balancing act. The concept of staying hungry while still enjoying the ride is delicate weld.
In general, the motivation for being ambitious seems to increase with age through responsibilities and dependents, and, if we should be so lucky, there is a time beyond which the weight of ambition decreases.
Anyways.. assume I find the right balance for myself and for my situation – then what?
Then comes the equally ambiguous question of what’s the right direction to channel my ambition. And to that, I answer with a nugget that I didn’t come up with during this trip. In fact, it happens to be the driving philosophy that brought me out here to begin with.
Do what you know makes you enjoy who you are.
You could argue convincingly that this is not so radical a departure from the grade school instruction to “Do what you love :^) !“, but I think by phrasing it the way I have, it makes it clearer to identify what it is that you do love. And once you identify what it is that makes you enjoy who you are, it makes it much more enjoyable to do what you have to do (see: make money) to be there more often.
Life, what a hilariously enjoyable ordeal.