My roommate and I were trading notes about Being Content vs. Having Ambition - Is there anything wrong with smiling and accepting the hand you’re dealt? Doesn’t ambition unfulfilled feel just as bad as never trying? Here are my thoughts, most of which are serious. We talked about it in Sharts of Grey, which is a mature way to talk about life.
“Contentedness” belongs in a different, Zen/Taoish/Mona Lisa Smile-y category — that’s more about being happy generally: things could be worse, don’t sweat the small stuff, etc. I think it’s Buddhism that says Desire is the source of unhappiness — you don’t get what you want so that sucks or you get it and it’s disappointing and that sucks. Content is a moment to moment issue - I am happy right now. and now. not now. got it back. still going… so on.
You can’t have ambition every moment of every day, right? Nobody thinks that way except sharks and Wile E. Coyote and look how they both ended up. In the moments between being ambitious, how are we doing? Good? Nice. Bad? Can we do anything about it? No? Don’t worry. Yes? Get busy.
Ambitionlessness though can only be laziness or stupidity because:
You can always get better - even if you’re the “best” piano player, there’s someone out there who plays a particularly difficult piece better than you or who writes more beautiful/interesting than you. Or if you’re the World Chess Champ playing people at your level is still very challenging ((and fun, I’ll bet))
Everyone has gifts (or at the very least something they enjoy/would like to be better at) — even if you’re not the piano chess master, maybe you like tennis or the jumble. If you weren’t ambitious about anything you would sit perfectly still in the dark all the time.
Good (Will Hunting) Example
+Skaaaaarsgarrrd wants Damon to study up and get a job at a think tank or doing weird mathocryptogrammy for the gov’ment, but Damon keeps blowing off the interviews and being a dick. (You owe it to the world to fulfill your potential - Damon doesn’t get it cause he doesn’t really care about society)
+ Then Damon is talking to Williams and says “Let’s say I work in construction forever — that’s someone’s house I built. That’s a good thing.” Williams turns it around on him: “Then why did you commute all across town to wax floors at the most advanced technical college in the world? You couldn’t be a janitor in South Boston?” (you owe it to yourself to fulfill your potential, and you already showed me that YOU want to — Damon doesn’t get it cause he doesn’t really care about himself)
+ But then the emotional peak— Damon and Affleck are eating lunch at the demolition site and Damon says he’s not taking any of the nice jobs cause he’d rather work here and do this with these people. Then Affleck says that he would give anything to have the thing that Damon has, and the best part of his day is when he’s walking up to Damon’s door and maybe he wont be there. Seriously, Affleck get’s a lil’ half-bone just thinking about that moment. (I am your best friend and I love you and you owe it to ME to go out and fulfill your potential — finally gets it cause the one thing he DOES care about are his friends.)
This question is what Good Will Hunting is ACTUALLY about. And Minnie Driver’s joke.
Being without Ambition means you don’t care about anything - which is rarely true, but if it is chances are you don’t care about being ambitionless. Then you’d be boring and nobody would care about you because they know you don’t care back.
But let’s say we’re talking about grander ambitions — If you want to be famous or rich and you decide on a route (acting, banking, music hahaha) and you give up without giving it a real shot then I say you didn’t really care about it in the first place — and if you have frustrated ambitions later (true, not healthy) you only have yourself to blame. If you tried and didn’t make it, I’ll bet you’re pretty good at something else by now, like piano chess (or tennis-themed jumbles) and that’s something with which you should be content.