Mash's Musings

Ambition vs equanimity

Published May. 14, 2021

With every achievement accomplished, your brain rushes with another high. An intense, gratifying inward cry of "I'm good enough." And then... it's gone. The next moment is upon you and unconsciously you have already scanned for the next empty box to check off. The next one will be the one that lasts you assure yourself, starring the empty box. Or the one after that — another star. You glance back at the tapestry of thousands of checked off boxes behind you and hesitate slightly. Within squinting distance you notice dozens of roughly pencilled stars, the handiwork of your past self.

Years later, your brain quietly hums with contentment. You feel an itch, hear someone shouting something obscene, but your brain hums on. You have learned how to find peace by looking inward, and relishing the beauty of the world around you. You focus for the next twenty minutes on the busy soundscape and a thought drifts into your head: there was some greatness you had wanted wanted to achieve, perhaps now is the time. You are calmly confident in your ability to accomplish it. You let that thought sit with you for a few moments until it passes and another replaces it: to what end? You have found love, found peace. A warm summer breeze passes, and with it so do your thoughts of greatness.

Ambition and equanimity lie in subtle yet inescapable tension. Most have no grip on the latter. Some try and hold onto both. None succeed. Which path do you choose?