Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On Meaning and Goals

As I mentioned in my latest post on Finding Wonderland, I'm reading The Van Gogh Blues by Eric Maisel. One of the things the book encourages the reader to do is think about what creates meaning in one's life, and so I tried to be game and did a bit of writing/thinking about it. I discovered that I make some interesting assumptions about meaning that I don't always examine closely enough:
I seem to associate meaning with things happening outside of myself. If that were true, I'd have no control over making anything meaningful. And maybe that is my big fear, the fear that making meaning is not under my control. Or maybe I'm afraid that if I acknowledge making meaning IS under my control, I will have to admit that I'm bad at it. That I've been doing a poor job.

I'm getting hung up again on the idea that others are the arbiters of what is ultimately meaningful, whether my accomplishments are meaningful. Deconstructing that, I notice there's an implicit assumption that I need to have accomplished things in order for meaning to be a consideration.

If there's anything I should have learned from being in the arts, it's the importance of process, just as much as product. Perhaps in some cases more so than product, because we learn from process.

I zeroed in on a few ideas that I feel are important to me: Learning. Process. Progress. And I started to think about how being goal-oriented is sometimes an obstacle to appreciating process.
A goal, an end result, should be an image that inspires, encourages, invigorates. It should spur more joy in the process and the act. It should not discourage, dishearten, inspire fear or anxiety, cause despair. I constantly confuse goals with chores.

If a goal does that, then perhaps it is not a goal as I want to define it. What is it, then? And how can I reformulate it so it's the "right" kind of goal?

I have too many chores and not enough goals.

Maybe goal is the wrong word. Dream. Objective. Aim. Wish. Inspiration. Goal is too simple. It is a source as well as a goal, a beginning and an end point. It's the motivational starting point as well as the dream at the end. It gives meaning to the process.
I'm starting to think the mistake is in thinking of "goal" and "process" as two separate, separable things. Anyway, some Points to Ponder.