Destined perhaps, by my own insistence, to wrestle with an uncomfortable world of dissatisfying realities, I often find myself running perpendicular to norms. Yet, born into parental expectations and professional dictates, I have learnt to counter this tendency, by being a corporate chameleon, sometimes just to fit in socially; mostly to chase traditional career success.
Nature and nurture locking horns : it doesn’t surprise me that Freud made his name by claiming we are governed by medusa-styled extensions of maternal aspirations.
So for my first 50 years, I wriggled and slithered and succumbed to others’ opinions, in an attempt to define my self (and worth). It certainly worked out financially. I semi-retired at 51 albeit burnt out and lost.
For that previous year, while working with an US Impact Investment Fund, ostensibly setup for ESG impact, but really just a slush fund for successive questionable employees, I had been pondering the true meaning of purpose : at an esoteric, functional and societal level. And, in truth, for all my musings, not really getting anywhere.
And then one morning, looking out over Dylan Thomas-esque mists, freshly clearing over our Australian farm, while drinking my first coffee, I read these words
“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.” ― Francois De La Rochefoucault
It is difficult to confront oneself in earnest or with total honesty. As humans, we seem to err in favour of quiet self-deception, by default. We see ourselves as we want to, almost for fear of finding out that much of what we have pridefully and exhaustively constructed is just a straw idol.
Whether, that morning, the aggregate wisdom of time, the sadness of personal loss of identity or the sheer fatigue of holding up a mask prompted my decision, I resolved to drop the charade and facade right there and then.
First caffeine coursing through my arteries, I began to change my mindset with the express intent to draw up a plan to find my own private purpose, to Beat the Grind.