Over lunch yesterday, a woman asked me what my “plans” were—the word “plans” articulated in such a way that the capitalized first letter was clearly present.
After giving a fairly succinct and coherent response in a little under three minutes, she replied by saying: “Yes, that’s lovely, but what are your plans?”
The obvious breakdown in communication made me pause. It can be disorienting to be asked the same question after giving what one feels to be a straightforward answer. After a moment, I realized where the confusion lay: I’d answered a question about my future plans with a statement describing my already present conditions. To say it another way, I hadn’t really said anything about achieving something new or pursuing something different.
At which point, I realized something else: I’m not particularly interested in achieving anything new or pursuing anything different because I am, quite frankly, very happy where I am and how I am (despite the where and the how being rather nebulous states of affairs). I get to write, I get to practice yoga, I’m surrounded (almost all the time) by people I’m terribly fond of, and I get to make a difference in the world in my own way. I highly doubt that there’ll be any Pulitzer, Booker or Nobel prizes coming in the future (something that would have broken my striving childhood heart), but—surprise of all surprises—I really don’t care.
I can’t emphasize enough what an unexpected state of affairs this is, because I’ve spent quite a significant amount of my life agonizing about, well, making something significant of my life. (And I was embarrassingly earnest enough about the search to actually leave the corporate world and study philosophy.)
These days though, the summit of my ambition is to be able to keep waking up and enjoying a leisurely cup of Lavazza Cremoso Espresso coffee. In the face of it (and countless other tiny pleasures), it gets very hard to be bothered by such things as Accomplishment and Meaning and Purpose and Transcendence.
Which is not to say that these things aren’t important, but sometimes (maybe even most times) all the forests that we need are already in the trees. And sometimes, when we’re really, really masterful, even just a leaf will do.