So back to my friend and his pitch. After I said some of this he said something like, “Well if you don’t know what you want…” This struck me as both very weird and yet totally expected. The fact is I do know what I want. It’s just that in a world where wealth and fame is the highest object of desire, the idea of someone not wanting that sounds the same as not knowing what you want. If you knew what you wanted you would understand that what you want is wealth and fame.
I really feel like all that stuff about embracing poverty and avoiding greed that the Buddhists talk about isn’t just something that’s supposed to make a person all pure and holy. It’s actually advice on how to live a better life. The more you demand from society in terms of wealth, the more society demands from you. If you don’t deliver, you suffer.
“Wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society.” Thoreau said that. He could have been talking about Bill Watterson, who told his former art professor why he had no interest in merchandising Calvin and Hobbes: “Enough is enough, and I have enough.” I find that to be a very useful mantra. Seriously — it’s like a glass-half-full perspective switch. It’s very easy to spend all your time thinking about all the things you lack. It’s not really any less true to focus on all the ways in which you have more than you even need, and doing so sometimes even improves your mood.