We’ve all heard about the elusive voice in our heads. The one that’s hard to listen to in the beginning but won’t shut up once we’ve paid any attention to it. Most people say that this annoying voice is almost always right. Conscience, intuition, gut; it has many noble-sounding names that seem to glorify it and place it on a pedestal, high above the realm of understanding of most ordinary folks living ordinary lives.
Like me for example. I work hard for over eight hours a day; hammering away on my keyboard, sometimes in the dead of the night and at my relationships, holding on in a world where I have the attention of my companions at the dinner table only until the next Facebook message, Whatsapp or Snapchat notification. If there’s any time left, there usually isn’t, I work on myself and try to improve my skills, my well-being or the appearance of my closet. By all means, my life is ordinary, as is that of most people I know personally. Until the damned voice speaks up.
The question it asks of me most often is, “Is there all there is?” That’s right. That wretched rhetoric of a question that in a split second wipes away every notion of happiness I have in the ordinariness, the normalcy of it all. I give in to the temptation and answer, “No, of course not. There must be more. There has to be,” almost chiding myself for settling for less. It’s like being afraid of being judged by myself.
I find myself questioning the motivation behind this voice. Is it plain old vanity then? A deep-rooted narcissism that forces us to question our lives in the secret belief that we can do better, that our lives are meant to be more? That we have some greater purpose that we have simply not discovered yet?
While I can think of nothing wrong with striving to be more than what we are, because that is how most ordinary people achieve and do the extraordinary, perhaps there is something inherently selfish in this quest for our ultimate purpose. Most ordinary folks, including me, have a whole network of other people who are in some capacity counting on us to be exactly what we are in this moment. Any more or any less and we upset their equilibrium in an attempt to find our own. It’s like setting off a domino effect when you don’t remember having signed up for the game.
When I think of it, I realize I do want what I want. Any less, even if it makes those I love happy, will never be enough for me. You see, the one truth we’re discouraged to say out loud is that we love ourselves the most. We might feel deeply for those that we claim to love but it will always be a little less than the love we have for our own desires and dreams. The voice only speaks up when we let our lives be ruled by the love we have for others or the comfort that lies in routine and inaction.
So here is the question I ask everyone who thinks we must listen to this inner voice and that includes myself; if we must upset the balance of lives other than our own to realize our true potential or one we believe to be true, is it safe to say that all greatness and the desire to be all that we supposedly can be is born of a far simpler human trait- selfishness in its truest, most unadulterated form?
Are we all selfish and is it time to accept that it’s not a terrible thing to be?