The Second-Best Reason for Our Lives

We are probably there right now, slaving away at a replacement for our true purpose in life.

What is your pacifier? The baby knows that the plastic teat in its mouth is not the real thing, but it will settle for it – at least until the hunger pangs really begin to gnaw, then it will cry for the real thing. Perhaps you are not yet hungry for the real purpose of your life? Perhaps you have decided to settle for the pacifier for the rest of your life?

Yesterday someone took a decision concerning her career that she will regret for the rest of her life. It was not necessarily a bad decision. Indeed it might well have been a practical, if not lucrative decision, but she will still regret it all the same. It was a decision to settle for the Second-Most-Important Reason for her Life.

She was a hair stylist at heart. The building of nests with hair is her one and consuming passion… but she was also good at Physics, Chemistry and Geography, – and she listened to conventional common sense, and sensible parents and studied Geology at university. She will spend the next four decades drowning her passionate dreams with a fat salary from an oil company. This afterall, is why hobbies were invented: to relieve the rigours of the subsistence farmer with a bit of fun whittling at weekends…. or to give the nine-to-fiver a taste of the real reason for his life, when he comes back exhausted after slaving away at the second-best reason for his life.

There is a principle of Displacement at work here. Often an essential assignment appears so intimidating in scope, so impossible to achieve that we rise from our desk and go and wash the dishes. When the dishes are done, we head back to the desk, remember the difficult assignment, and veer into the garden to mow the grass. We eventually become so efficient at Displacing the Real Purpose for our lives with excellent, useful, lucrative, subsidiary, procrastinations that we will eventually believe what everyone else around us tells us about the successful, useful, lucrative, lives we live, and permanently shut the door on the real purpose for our lives… but deep inside…

We know.