Modern man’s search for meaning

Have you ever woken up and realized that you didn’t want to go to work?” This is what Kasey Edwards calls “being over it” and “loosing your give-a-shit”. You were an enthusiastic career climber for a couple of years and then, bang, you don’t see the point anymore. I have no idea why Amazon suggested to me the book called Thirty Something And Over It (has it been reading my blog?), but it hits the spot.

I long ago noticed that looking for meaning and satisfaction in work is the major trait of my generation. (Some also call it “sense of entitlement” and “narcissism”) Instead of just settling for something that pays the bills, we want to utilize our “creativity” and save the Earth in the process. It’s no surprise then, that none of the older self-help manuals quite help here. I’m pretty sure if venerable Viktor Frankl lived to this day, he would call me a self-indulgent wanker who needs a good whipping. And he would have a point: my search for meaning was prompted by getting a job at Google, while his – by surviving a concentration camp.

But I also feel like our modern problems, however petty, still deserve to be taken seriously. A writer once said to me that the world will never have enough books written. There will never be a point in the future when writers aren’t necessary because Dickens and Hemingway have said everything worth saying. The stories always need to be retold by new generations to remain relevant. In the same way, despite the glut of self-help manuals around, I feel Kasey Edwards is doing something useful by addressing the whole meaning-of-life question from the Gen Y perspective.

Besides being relatable, there’s one more quality I like about this book: it’s not prescriptive and doesn’t attempt to reveal a secret formula to life and happiness. It’s just an account of one person dealing with her “thirty-something crisis”. It may seem useless to buy a self-help book which doesn’t provide the “solution” or doesn’t build a neat theory, but then how many self-help books you read had a lasting impact on your life? Might as well stop pretending and admit that the theories and solutions are useless.

What’s not useless, however, is the experience. One of the most rewarding things for me in watching films and reading books is recognizing myself in a character. (That’s pretty rewarding when talking to a living person as well) Every time I see A League of Their Own or Mary and Max or Little Children I think “that’s just like me!” and become emotionally invested in the story. And when the story is over, I feel good for the characters who overcame the odds and achieved their goals. It’s the same about this book: it gives me confidence that I’m on the right path and everything will work out in the end.

A snob in me objects vehemently to writing this post. I wanted to write about something I’m reading for long time, but I was hoping it would be something more… substantial. The intellectual side of me demands I write about Somerset Maugham or Albert Camus or, at the very least, Paulo Coelho. And instead, I go for a not-even-self-help-book with a chicklit cover. How disappointing is that? But, I guess, sometimes what’s right for you is not what you think you should have. Just like Mick Jagger says.

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6 Responses to Modern man’s search for meaning

  1. Yvonne says:

    Have u read Moon and 6 pence?

    • Nikita says:

      Fascinating book! It’s always interesting to follow a character with a singular passion (or obsession), such journey is never dull. The problem for me and most people is finding that kind of passion. Or any kind. How do you discover an activity/trade/interest that really fires you up?
      As Kasey Edwards puts it, I need a “baby”: a project to nurture, invest in and worry about. Charles Strickland obviously had his.
      What do you think?

  2. Vitaliy says:

    Have you read about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi and his book Flow?
    Also there is an interesting blog http://petrosian.ru/ but this guy over 40.. 🙂 with the same problem in mind.

    • Nikita says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! Did you read the book? I understand the idea of flow, but wonder if the book goes much farther than just explaining it.
      The blog is very interesting, especially given that it’s been there for over 10 years. I want to find time to look through it and see how things change. And as far as the age goes… it’s good to know I have head start (:

  3. Mary and Max 🙂 Dalai Lama once said and i quote ” meeting innumerable others from all over the world and from every walk of life reminds me of our basic sameness as human beings. Indeed the more I see of the world, the clearer it becomes that no matter what our situation, whether we are rich or poor, educated or not, of one race, gender, religion or another, we all desire to be happy and to avoid suffering. Our every intended action, in a sense our whole life- how we choose to live it within the context of the limitations imposed by the circumstances – can be seen as our answer to the great question which confronts us all: “How am I to be happy?”.

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