This has been on my mind for couple of weeks now. If you haven’t heard the story of the missing goat till now, let me just briefly sum it up for you, next few lines have been directly quoted from a website –
It all started one lazy Sunday afternoon in a small town. Two school-going friends had a crazy idea. They rounded up three goats from the neighbourhood and painted the number 1, 2 and 4 on their sides. That night they let the goats loose inside their school building. The next morning, when the authorities entered the school, they could smell something was wrong. They soon saw goat droppings on the stairs and near the entrance and realised that some goats had entered the building.
A search was immediately launched and very soon, the three goats were found. But, the authorities were worried, where was goat No. 3? They spent the rest of the day looking for goat No.3. There was panic and frustration. The school declared a holiday for the students. The teachers, helpers and the canteen boy were all busy looking for the goat No. 3, which, of course, was never found. Simply because it did not exist.
Similar stories have been doing rounds on social media recently and as you may have guessed it by now, the story ends with a life lesson that we should not keep chasing things which don’t exist or we should be happy and grateful for what we have rather than chasing the never ending pursuit of happiness. Story in first glance looks compelling and even convincing to a lot of people. It makes us question ourself that, do we really need to have a life purpose or meaning in life ? Scientist too believe that life in itself doesn’t have a purpose. We just happened. Well, as logical as it sounds scientifically, in Dorothy Allison’s words “It is still impossible to fathom that we are just meat and electrical synapses.”
There are lot of things in the universe which we can’t justify with our own reasoning, something of that sort is human spirit. It has defined our evolution, our journey as a race to this 21st century of science and technology. The never ending quest for learning and exploring more has been our only way of survival. Our ability to invest in future is one of the greatest reason for where we are today as a race. Capitalism, socialism, our financial and social institutions all are based on an imagined public order, a better future. So when people tell me this story of the missing goat, I can’t help but smirk blatantly.
To me the whole idea of being satisfied with what we have is as hideous as it is ridiculous. Aiming high in every way possible is something I have always believed in. This applies to every field of life. Financially, socially, intellectually or spiritually, If we are not constantly looking for a way of improvement, we are just burden on the society. With the start up culture suddenly becoming popular, it has simultaneously made people question the very foundation of the underlying need for realising life purpose of human psyche. With statistics of majority of start up failing in early stages it only makes sense to go with flow and accept what we already know, that it’s incredibly hard to succeed unless you are relentless and ruthless about what you dream to achieve, and you have got to top that with little bit of luck too. Ofcourse most of the people still fail in their quest for achieving great success their life, but that can not be accepted as reason enough for not trying at all. At the same time we have to understand that winning or achieving should not be whole reason of trying. Phil knight in very early pages of “SHOE DOG” has mentioned that “when you are running on an oval track or down an empty street. You have no real destination. At least none that fully justifies the effort. In that case the act itself becomes destination. It’s not just that there is no finish line but it’s that you define the finish line. whatever gain or pleasure you define from running, you must find them within.”
I know the above idea sounds quixotic but it really isn’t. The catch is that a lot of us define satisfactory and happy life as something which is free of trouble, worries, uncertainties, failures and (surprisingly) hard-work. Ironically if you take these things away there is hardly any life left. Attaching ourself to idea of linear progression of life is harmless to our physical condition but it nearly destroys our experience of life inwardly. Life after all is a journey and ephemeral to the very core. It is only foolish not to try while we can. Life is meant to be played as an infinite game. The purpose is to play, not to win.
To sum up unequivocally, I would say that dream and dream big, No matter how ridiculous it sounds and put everything behind it. You might fail and fail miserably and in those moments of failure if you find strength to try again, you will witness the existence of human spirit which transcends any kind of worldly pleasure you will ever witness on winning.
John Prine’s beautiful words have been defining line of my mental state:
“If dreams were thunder and lightening was desire, this old house would have burnt down a long time ago.”