To Love What You Do (Part 6)

Location, community, or a job you love. There are 3 things to choose from after college. Live in a cool location? Be surrounded by people you know and love? Or go for a job that is something you are passionate about? That is the choice.

Now, if you are pretty lucky, you will get two out of three. You may get a great job in a cool location. But you may be lonely. Or you may have great community in a location you love. Doubtful. For most people, it is one out of the three only.

Of course there is the rare exception who gets all three (perhaps they were born in a cool city - then, of course, it wouldn’t be as cool :-). But in reality we have limits within our options. We find ways to understand our choices as best we can.

Is it worth it to have an amazing job but be completely lonely? Or is it healthy to have great community but to be miserable at work? These were not choices in times where survival alone was the goal. We simply didn’t have time to think about such things.

Today we live in a world of infinite choices, at least those who live in the “first” world (and especially those who live in “free” societies). We have pursued the value of freedom and independence for so long (here in the U.S.) that now we got it.

Very little is determined for us. We can marry who we want or not marry. We can take a job or not. We can pursue this career or not. We can move here or there or not. Especially in the early 20’s, the choices are laid at our feet to make.

At first this freedom is celebrated. What a gift to be able to decide on our own what we will do. But soon the weight of that gift starts to become a reality. We realize each of our potential choices leads to a completely different life. How do we decide?

In today’s world some have even opted to permanently not decide, to live in a parent’s basement, to withdraw from any determining decisions. But of course, we can not escape the fact that every decision carries with it some necessary consequence.

And thus we are back to a very finite existence. We must choose a direction and with it a particular set of complications. There is no way around decision. This is what fascinated Kierkegaard: the heart and fury of choosing.

He described it as a leap. That is really it. We have no way of ultimately knowing the consequence of our decisions completely. There are so many unknowns. There must always remain an element of risk, of complete faith to make a choice.

This one means not that one. True. That ones means not this one. True. Limitation. So how do we possibly go about making the decision? Many turn to a sort of utilitarian model to ease the existential tension. What will produce the most good?

Again, if we could only know the answer. Choosing something logically that “makes sense” to help people may not resonate passion within us. What is really at the core of who we are? Who ultimately am I? Why on earth am I here?