Saturday, April 16, 2005

Forever Climbing Mount Everest

I finished read Sushi for Beginners, by Marian Keyes, a while ago. In it, there's an exchange that I find very telling:

"But there's more to life than being the best."

A scornful laugh. "No, there isn't."

"But you are the best. You're so young and successful, why isn't it enough"

"That's the trouble with success," Lisa muttered. "You've got to continually top yourself."

How could she explain that the more she got the more she wanted? Every coup left her empty, chasing the next one in the hope that perhaps then she'd feel like she'd arrived. Satisfaction was fleeting and elusive and success simply whetted her appetite for more and more and more.

And then later in the book:

She's always been the sum of her triumphs. One success stacked on top of another made Lisa who she was... our lives are a succession of experiences and the broken ones count as much as the perfect ones

Poor girl, but so true. I agree that that is the trouble with success. You become addicted to it, and it becomes a drug that you need more and more and more of. But when does it all end? When do you finally realize that you have enough? What will give long-lasting satisfaction? Not shopping, not consuming, not eating... But what?

I feel that I've definitely been guilty of the pursuit of fleeting passions-- like being the best, being super-successful. But, lately I have been realizing how superficial and short each shining moment is. When you finally achieve "success", you're happy, you're on top of the world. But then, moments later, that high starts to fade away, and you have to start climbing again, since things always change, glories fade away. If you decide to take a look back, you'll see the carcasses of things sacrificed, and realize that its might not be worth it. As Lisa did, eventually, in the book.
  • New York Observer article on "The Netflix Neurosis"

    "Maximizers." Extreme Maximizers are correlated with clinical depression, according to Mr.Schwartz. "Assume you’re the kind of person that needs to get the best," he said. "So what does that mean? It means you have to examine all the possibilities, otherwise how do you know it was the best? The alternative is someone who is satisfied with ‘just good enough.’ You don’t have to examine all the options—you only find the one that meets your standards and then you stop looking. But if you need to have the best, the search has to be exhaustive. But it can’t be exhaustive in the world we live in. At some point, you stop and pull the trigger, and there’s this doubt in your mind: ‘If I’d looked a little longer or looked a little different, I’d have done better.’

    Isn't that interesting? I feel like a lot of people I know are extreme maximizers. Maybe its just people from [insert Ivy League School]? But, people from [same Ivy League School] are never satisfied with good enough. They have to keep looking and looking until almost every stone is overturned before we settle down, if that ever even happens. Sort of goes along with the neverending quest for success.