“I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now..”
So sang Freddie Mercury in the Queen hit “I want it all”. And from what I heard, he probably got a lot more than most of us.
Of course we all want stuff. Some of us want fancy stuff – our own pyramid, a gold yacht or a helicopter made of chocolate.
Some of us want simpler and more meaningful stuff – good relationships, inner peace and a sense of purpose (or, for confused dolphins, a sense of porpoise?).
And of course some of us just want another bag of popcorn and the return of Game of Thrones / The Walking Dead.
I imagine if you were a criminal in a chain-gang on the run, the thing you’d want most would be some good solid bolt-cutters and a place to lie low. But few of us will experience that situation – although, incredibly, chain-gangs have been reintroduced into some US prisons recently. Most of us have some degree of freedom to go where we please, and make our own choices, within reason.
But freedom comes at a price. The sheer abundance of choices can become paralysing and we can end up not knowing what we want or which way to go. So we end up running (or lumbering) in circles.
As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut with NASA, a test pilot or experience the heady adrenaline rush of a life in accountancy. But sadly I had no head for heights, no need for speed and had zero ability with numbers.
Many of us never really figure out what we want out of life until it’s (almost) too late. Fortunately, thanks to advances in medicine, we live longer than at any time in history. So we are fortunate in having many more opportunities to arrive at answer of some sort.
We often assume getting what we want will make us happy. Yet thanks to our old friend habituation, those who do get it soon find themselves wanting something else / more / better. It seems like a no-win situation.
Those who are as wise as Yoda and study such things have good news: we can choose to be happy. Happiness from the inside comes. Or the Force. Or something. Of course a large degree of our personal happiness is set by our genes. But it still leaves us plenty of room for manoeuvre.
As the Rolling Stones had it “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes well you just might find. You get what you need”*
*Although I suspect if you’re a member of that band, you can pretty much get what you want. Oh the irony.
Since we moved to Denmark in the Summer of 2012, I have discovered life out in the suburbs, away from the hubbub of the big city. While country lving is not all bird song and fields of golden wheat, swaying in the breeze, it sure does have its selling points. Having green fields, lakes and forests on your doorstep offers a great opportunity to experience the relaxing powers of nature. The man-eating plants, quicksands and ferocious wolverine-squirrels can put a damper on things, but once you’ve learned to avoid these hazards, and to steer clear of the woods during a full moon, all is peachy.
Well fairly peachy. We do live in a flat after all. There is the petrol-head neighbour with his big truck that goes vroom! very, very loudly. And the people upstairs who seem to be in rehearsal for some avant-garde theatre production involving constantly moving furniture, stomping and hammering. But at least the guy from the top floor has moved out now, taking his drum kit with him (Yes, really!).
I didn’t know if I wanted to live out in the suburbs, but that’s where we ended up. And, as so often happens, the random nature of life unfolding brings surprises and unexpected pleasures. So we have swapped the urban jungle for country walks, and say hello (Or Hej) to horses, sheep, goats and wolverine-squirrels. We wonder at the beauty of the ever-changing landscape and gaze in bafflement at the abundant species of unknown plants, trees and fungi.
But for all the bucolic bliss, what I want (or need) most right now is a job to pay the rent. After taking a long career break (or mini-retirement if you will) it’s time to saddle up that horse and ride on into town. Of course there are fewer places to hitch a horse these days and using Denmark’s extensive public transport system is generally faster and more convenient. Less horse-poop to clean up too.
Readjusting to paid employment will be an interesting challenge, all the more so after so many years of self-employment before we emigrated. But I can’t help feeling the time is right for new challenges and an exciting change of pace.
I certainly hope NASA is willing to consider a slightly over-the-hill Brit with an ‘O’ level in Physics and a keen interest in astronomy (well I can point to the Plough, aka the Big Dipper anyway). I can still do more than twenty push-ups (cue exciting training montage, al la Rocky) and still have quite a few of my original teeth.
So I’m all set for finally going after what I perhaps always wanted. To boldly go where quite a lot of much braver people have been before. Of course I may not be actual astronaut material, but I can look slightly geeky in my glasses and twiddle some knobs as convincingly as the next person. I could entertain my colleagues with terrible puns (a family affliction) and make the coffee too.
What do you say good people of NASA? Can you hear me grounds control?
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