Here's yet another post that was lost in the draft files.
Written 27 February, 2007
Ambition is a strong human emotion.
I suppose we all suffer from it, but it takes a variety of forms. We want a corner office with windows. We want to get married and have kids. We want to win four million bucks in the lottery. We want to see Japan. We want to own Action Comics #1. We want to get our house paid off.
We use our ambitions to set our goals, and then we work towards those goals as best we can. And we realize them, or we don’t.
That might seem to be all there is to say about ambition, but I don’t think so.
First, there are different types of ambition.
There's the Donald Trump the-one-with-the-most-toys-wins-and-it-doesn't-matter-who-you-screw-over-to-get-them form of ambition.
And there’s the Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa I-am-going-to-change-the-world form of ambition.
I like to think of the latter not as ambition, but as determination, for it focuses outside the individual.
That’s what I have in the real world.
I remember making a conscious decision when I was in high school not to seek material wealth, for the pursuit of money and goods, I was wise enough to know, would shape the human being I would become. I didn’t want to be a person who felt that money was everything, and I was sure that however much I might accrue, there would never be enough money. I would always be in feckless pursuit of it.
I call it my Personality Type A vs. Personality Type B decision.
It’s a choice I've never regretted, although there have been times when money was beyond tight. It would certainly have been nice to have a little more. But I've kept myself fed, and clothed, and sheltered, and entertained. I've always had reliable transportation and money enough to indulge my whims, short of buying a yacht or a ride on the space shuttle. I've not had—nor wanted—a yuppie lifestyle, but I've wanted for nothing.
My decision has given me the freedom to follow the things that have really driven me. Those “determinations” sorts of things.
It has been immensely rewarding.
It’s funny. Following my bliss has brought me more fame and more respect and more acclaim—none of which I particularly wanted— and more friends and more happiness— both of which I certainly did—than I could have possibly garnered by a conscious pursuit of the same. I’ve know people who lusted for those things and in the pursuit of them lost them or achieved only marginal success.
Strange how that works.
When I started Second Life, I had no particular ambition. I didn’t want to get rich on the grid, or make myself the most beautiful and desirable avatar (although of course I wanted to be both beautiful and desirable), or become an acclaimed builder or scripter or particle goddess. I just wanted to be myself. And I have been myself.
And strange to say, things have come to me. After four short months on the grid I have an avatar that perfectly suits me, wonderful property, a beautiful home, a great volcano, a multitude of friends, a business that pays a good portion of the tier fees, and a cherished lover. Life is so good it almost couldn’t get any better.
If all this sounds like bragging, I’m sorry. I’m just stating the facts as I see them. My point is that we have ambition and we work it in individualistic ways. My way is to do the right thing, in disregard of personal benefit. It happens to bring me incredible benefits, and I’m most happy for them, but they’re incidental.
Following our Bliss
The pursuit of ambition can be a good thing or a bad thing.
It’s a good thing when we realize our ambitions without hurting others.
It’s a bad thing when, like The Donald, we run over others in the pursuit of our goals.
And when our ambition leads us to make decisions in the name of expediency, it diminishes our character.
I have never done and will never do the expedient thing to realize my ambitions. Rather, I have stood and will stand on principle.
Someone with whom I am close is, I believe, subverting ambition to expediency and placing herself in danger in the doing. I can’t bear it.
Photos: Following Our Bliss