In our society, we are all trying to grab the golden carrot that extends out of reach, at the end of our nose. Most people are conditioned to believe that if they get “X” they’ll be OK, feel better and get the life they’ve always dreamt of. Unfortunately, this usually plays out like a Wiley Coyote cartoon and the line in the sand (that will provide the illusive satisfaction) keeps moving farther and farther out… always barely out of reach. This is an old idea, well illustrated by the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
We’ve been fortunate to live in a city like Los Angeles, where in a single day you can experience great diversity amongst the people you meet. Based on our diverse experience, our conclusion is that no matter where people are situated socioeconomically there can be deep and profound personal dissatisfaction. This is easily witnessed on television entertainment shows that report on the bad behavior and tragic episodes of the rich and famous. If people with money, fame and resources cannot reach the carrot (happiness) or the pot of gold (love) then clearly money, fame and resources are not the solution to what ills us. We’ve seen people chase this illusion into the depth of depression and insanity until they finally come to the same realization that we have, there is no there, there.
Most people can relate to wanting something so desperately that they believe it would make them feel different– feel better. It could be a new car, clothes, a job or just about anything material. What it costs, doesn’t matter. Who hasn’t pined over a romantic interest at one point our lives, believing that it would make everything else better? No matter where we are on the socioeconomic spectrum, odds are that if you are reading this, you can relate to this concept without the need to have millions of dollars to understand it.
However, we can illustrate this in the story of Don Simpson, a rich and famous Hollywood producer at the top of his game. Simpson was one half of the powerhouse producing team Bruckheimer / Simpson who made such blockbusters as Top Gun and Days Of Thunder. The no holds barred book, “High Concept” by Charles Flemming tells of the life and death of Simpson and notes such excesses as a $60,000-a-month drug habit.
The sad final chapter of Simpson’s life was chasing an external finish line that could never be reached. Whatever the personal demons (and mythology) there is absolutely no limit to the amount of external excesses that are sought as an ineffective solution to solve an internal problem. So then, what is the solution? Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we already have everything we need. The difficult part is accepting this truth as the basis for daily living and creating a change from within.
Some might argue that this attitude could lead to complacency or even apathy. We prefer to see it as measured contentment. Understanding that there is no there, there should also not be an excuse to avoid personal responsibly, and the pursuit of worthy goals as well as advancing in age appropriate maturity. It is actually this understanding that allows us to be more useful and productive in our aid to others, as we are less concerned with chasing rainbows and the ghosts of selfish interests.
The true test of internalizing this value is expressed in a less stressful and genuinely more joyful life; every experience (happening now) is valued more than any experience, achievement or possession that may or may not happen in the future. Start by enjoying this moment, as it is.