Aimlessness has a rather bad reputation, in the West at least. Aimless people are generally seen as drifters, underachievers, or at best, rebels. But is aimlessness really condemnable? Must we always do something? Aim for something? Are we only the sum of our achievements or is there more to us than our diplomas, our houses and our cars, our reputation?
“Does the rose have to do something? No, the purpose of a rose is to be a rose. Your purpose is to be yourself. You don’t have to run anywhere to become someone else. You are wonderful just as we are.” – Thich Nhat Hahn
But we are not roses growing in some wild garden, oblivious of our beauty. We are people. We are rational, self-conscious, social, and aspiring. It is in our nature to do things. We can’t help it. We can’t avoid making others happy or making them suffer. We can’t avoid going out that front door, even if it means getting into trouble.
“Most people cannot believe that just walking as though you have nowhere to go is enough. They think that striving and competing are normal and necessary.” – Thich Nhat Hahn
There used to be a time when I thought that I wouldn’t be happy unless I write a great novel, or unless a particular woman loved me, or unless I became a certain kind of person I desperately wanted to be. Perhaps I still have such longings, and perhaps they are fuelled by passion.
But there are many moments when, drifting into quietness, I find myself pleased by the simple realization of the present moment unfolding around me, and of its significance. This “now” moment, we will always have it – it will be ours until we die. The now we have when we are young is just as valuable as the now we will have when old.
“There is no need to put anything in front of us and run after it. We already have everything we are looking for, everything we want to become.” – Thich Nhat Hahn
We can’t be aimless all the time – it’s just not our nature. But when we are, we shouldn’t feel too bad about it, whatever others say. A butterfly waltzing through the garden is rather aimless, don’t you think? And yet, doesn’t he look like the happiest thing under the sun?
When was the last time you were aimless? Did you enjoy it?