The land of opportunities. The great American dream, which became the great human dream. That of being successful and contributing something to this world. This idea of consumerism that is inbuilt in the American psyche is glaring and evident for all to see. What is not so transparent is the fact that this thriving business-focused country owes its existence to people who were really fed up with the old ways of living, with people who wanted to leave behind a legacy in this world and with people who had dare and experimentation inherent in them. I cannot say much about whether these traits are still de rigor here, but the facts seem to ascertain that. But that’s not what I want to talk about here.
Opportunities need extraction and capitalization. How one goes about doing it is indicative of the things that the person is looking for in the said opportunity. If the thing that one looks for is success, the fact that its definition is by definition vague and ambiguous makes it a rather unyielding goal to have. If one is looking for monetary success, while being tangible and measurable, the tension stops somewhere long before one can really do something worthwhile. That is, there is a diminishing satisfaction with money and it cannot, by itself, stand up as a valid eventual goal. What then? Power? Empirically, it can be said that one is done attaining sustainability and luxury, the next stage of success involves being powerful. And being in power can again mean multiple things for multiple people. Rendering it thus, a rather arguable non-starter when it comes to being a goal into itself.
Legacy however is pined for, and addresses the most primitive and fundamental fear of mankind – death. Its not as much an existential question, as it is a method of dealing with uncertainty and with the ephemerality of life in this world. Something to remember us by, something to leave behind us that is other than our offsprings who are in effect only an offshoot and not a rendering of ourselves. This need, I believe, is the single biggest determinant of the goals you set in life. The idea of being immortal in some way or the other is intriguing and everyone has this notion of floating in the other world and looking from a distance the fruits of his labor recognized and respected, well after he has departed.