Response to Derek Sivers (2016Sep04)


Sunday, September 04, 2016                                            6:59 PM

Response to the Derek Sivers Article: Why are you doing?

Goals are for the young. Their goals allow them to push themselves, to experience the ups and downs of life, and to learn who they really are and what they’re capable of. Having achieved a goal, one looks back and sees the entire journey differently for having reached its end. Do that often enough, and one becomes an adult.



Adults come to see life not as an Olympic event, but as a group activity—being a good, supportive family member, being an engaged employee of your workplace, being a contributing member of your community. Goals in this context are what one does with the interstices—diet and exercise, continuing education, workbench projects, artistry, whatever. Thus I find the whole subject of goals difficult to get my arms around.



But exceptions abound—entrepreneurs, visionaries, activists, geniuses of one type or another—such people include disruption in their life plan, while still trying their best also to be the ‘adults’ described above. That’s a tall order—which is why there are not more of such people. Only the truly driven have any reason to make life even more challenging than it already is. The rest of us tend to make a goal of finding something pleasant to do during our leisure time, and making as much of that leisure time as we can.


I thought myself exceptional—until I’d become more familiar with the world and realized that, out of seven billion, exceptional isn’t always automatically ‘rich and famous’. I found my exceptionals to be balanced neatly against my weaknesses. I found ‘rich and famous’ to be a silly goal, because both balance their advantages against their hassles. And I found that personal, private success is hard to enjoy when there are so many people with less comfort, less wealth, and less opportunity.


On the other hand, saving the world is a tall order—and I’m not that ambitious. I would have to satisfy myself with being engaged in my family’s, and my community’s, welfare—but then I became disabled and found myself the target of support, rather than the source. Surprise! Nothing educates like vulnerability. A great chunk of my ego was carved away. A great load of gratitude was grudgingly taken on. I went from dreaming of doing things no one else could do, to wishing I could do what any average person could. I was, as they say, ‘taken down a peg’.

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We don’t choose our goals any more than we choose our talents or our failings—goals accommodate themselves to the size of their container, if you will. But I appreciate your advice—whatever the goal, we should all be seeking maximum joy and personal growth—and time is short, so whatever we want to do, we better get busy doing it.


Thus endeth the lesson.

4 responses to “Response to Derek Sivers (2016Sep04)

  1. Haven’t been online lately. Or to be accurate, I have played solitaire. Being disabled does take one down a peg to humility. I remember receiving THE letter from SSD with my results. I went to my office (the bathroom) and read 29 pages of lmy life, not knowing until the end that I am officially disabled. it was the happiest day (due to money) and the saddest day of my life. I wasn’t even 30 yet. I lived with a fear of function u ntil recently. I truly feel blessed to have a passion. Yes, it is a brutal passion. but I am so driven, who is this woman? Happiness is where you find it I guess.

    • Humbling, yes–and also confusing–I remember the ramp-up to my certain death, over a decade ago now, and the feeling of the ground disappearing under my feet when I was given a new ‘life’–what does one do with such experiences? Live until we get over it, and get used to it, apparently. Glad you’re fighting–“that tingling feeling lets you know it’s working” Ha ha

  2. I can’t imagine facing death. Makes me feel badly for my years of wanting to be dead, to be blunt. I think about what I would do if I succeed in my program. Mentally, I don’t lin.ger there a long time but feel it is important to envision what success is. Do you feel you owe something. When I had the paralysis, I remember when the big toe moved. I was so full of “thank you Jesus, thank you God. I got over it. Things are different now

    • Maybe that’s why I’m an atheist–when bad things come, I don’t ask ‘why me?’–as if someone had picked me, and when good things come, I thank the transplant surgeon or the nurses–I don’t anthropomorphize my relief into a cosmic gratitude. But then, I’ve always been a miserable, weird, pain-in-the-ass–when I was a kid, I told my mom I wanted to wear glasses–she said “No, you don’t” (I had better than 20-20 vision). But I said to myself, “Yes, I DO want to wear glasses.” Now that I’m old, I got my wish–at least when I’m reading. But my mom was right–they’re a pain.

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