Monday Musings: Unlived Lives

Monday morning and you find yourself sitting on the desk, contemplating how your long weekend did not turn out to be as exciting as your colleague’s. You then start to check your email hoping to start being productive and in the end, you find yourself browsing over FB looking at how others are living your dream life. You start to wish you were in their shoes. What if I took that job offer? What if I stayed with him? These questions begin to plague your mind. Unlived lives, who doesn’t have them?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cat so I could have nine lives. I figured I could live 9 different lives but then again I wonder how much different each would be if I were a cat? Not much I suppose. But we all have an inner craving, we dream of being a millionaire (I prefer to dream more so I think in billions) living a luxurious life where money worries you little, a world explorer visiting beautiful destinations where there are less boundaries, a daredevil pushing oneself to one’s limit with little worried of aging or death, a successful man/woman raising a wonderful family with gorgeous kids with a loving husband/wife and a world icon who is creating a great legacy that will never be forgotten (think Einstein or Mandela level).

These unlived lives are what gives us frustrations and yet we thank them for giving us the motivation to continue living in the present. What would it be like to have none of these? Would you appreciate life more? What we want and what we have both exist for a reason. As Nietzsche puts it,

In our unlived lives we are always more satisfied, far less frustrated versions of ourselves… Our possibilities for satisfaction depend upon our capacity for frustration; if we can’t let ourselves feel our frustration — and, surprisingly, this is a surprisingly difficult thing to do — we can’t get a sense of what it is we might be wanting, and missing, of what might really give us pleasure… That frustration is where we start from; the child’s dawning awareness of himself is an awareness of something necessary not being there. The child becomes present to himself in the absence of something he needs.

Our present lives and the unlived ones shape who we are.

The more we frustrate ourselves in wanting something, the more we value our desire for it… Waiting too long poisons desire, but waiting too little pre-empts it; the imagining is in the waiting… Wanting takes time; partly because it takes some time to get over the resistances to wanting, and partly because we are often unconscious of what it is that we do want. But the worst thing we can be frustrated of is frustration itself; to be deprived of frustration is to be deprived of the possibilities of satisfaction.

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