Thursday, 20 February 2014

What Is Your Aspiration In Life?

I love Beyoncé to death (the album, that is. Beyonce herself I merely famz). There is a raw honesty to that body of work that is not usually present in pop music; it reeks of self-awareness, obviously the work of a woman who looked at her self, critically, honestly, and accepted what she saw, was satisfied with it, and loved it. I've watched the whole thing countless times, and I love that the album opens with this question:

What is your aspiration in life?

There is something about having a child that wakes one up. I suspect it happened to Queen B; it most certainly happened to me. I look at my daughter, and I realise that for both our sakes I must pursue more than the things society values as important - I must ask myself, over and over again, "what is my aspiration in life?". Forget my dreams of traveling the world à la Eat, Pray, Love: the pursuit of happiness as it has been sold to us by feel-good philosophy and pop culture is not good enough anymore. There has to be more to life.

I used to want to be famous. Being as gifted as I am (note the use of the word 'gifted' - this is not bragging), I have always taken it for granted that I would have no trouble excelling at whatever I choose to dedicate my life to (the tenses in this sentence are giving me a headache!). I practiced giving acceptance speeches, envisioned the thousands of interviews I would grant and the far-from-casual trips to Saks and Neiman-Marcus with an army of bodyguards and credit cards to ensure my safety and happiness. The adulation would be enough.

Then I grew up a little and decided I wanted to be famous and change the world as well, because hey, it's only right to give back. You know, like Angelina and Madonna and Alek. That sort of thing. UN ambassadorship and feeding starving children. Maybe even a Heal The World-esque detour along the way. Who says I can't dabble into inspirational pop while I'm at it? I would be famous, but, you know, Bono-famous. Show me the money and the free pass to heaven, thank you.

Now, things are different. I don't know what I want to be anymore, but it's not due to a lack of direction. I'm looking at the things that used to define success for me: renown, accumulated personal wealth, influence, leisurely luxury, and I'm questioning their validity. Do I really want the sum of my life to be fame and fortune? What kind of lessons would I be inadvertently teaching my child if I spent my life in the pursuit of capitalist goals, striving to be one step ahead of everyone else in the name of ambition? Is the belief that competition is necessary for personal success valid? Do I need to be a superlative of somebody else's achievements to have a meaningful life? What defines a meaningful life?

The thing about life is, once you start asking, the answers will find you. And I'm starting to see, vaguely still, but there's definitely something there, what a meaningful life might mean. Less of a focus on things, more of a focus on people. Less conformity, more authenticity. Less self-reliance, more faith. The universe, God, life, is revealing itself to me. And as long as I remain open, I'm sure the answers will keep coming.

What is your aspiration in life?

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