Questions in the Land of Opportunity

“This is your life.
Are you who you want to be?”
(Switchfoot)

I heard that song this morning and it stuck in my head. Who do you want to be? Is your life the way you imagined it “when the world was younger?” It’s always good to evaluate and make adjustments as needed. But the question, to me, goes deeper.

I look at the world and wonder what everyone else wants, too – not just me. What do all those people crossing in front of my car on Broughton Street want from life? What about the small cluster of folks standing outside the jewelry store waiting for the keyholder or manager to arrive and let them in? Is this what they have aspired to or live with contentedly? Are they on their way to better things – or maybe just different things? Do they live in frustration?

I’m sure the answer is “yes.” There is certainly a mix of degrees of satisfaction from one person to another, as well as over the course of any person’s life. But what about America being the land of opportunity? What about the idea of “two Americas” – the haves and the have-nots? I think it is dangerously easy for us mere mortals to be lulled into complacency, with opportunity scattered all around us. Maybe we want more from life, but things really aren’t so bad as it is, and after all, change brings uncertainty, risk, possible discomfort. So we plod along.

But I also have a suspicion that many people are content with just getting by. Not everyone has the ambition to “get ahead.” So I wonder what makes the difference between those who have that ambition and motivation and those who do not. Can it be acquired or is it innate? Does it even matter? Maybe it’s ok that some people are driven and attain great material wealth, while others prefer to live differently and reap different rewards from life. Maybe one of the cruelest offerings of our society is the marketing of discontentment… telling people again and again that they have no reason to be content with less wealth. And “less” and “more” are always relative, and where is “enough?”

So I wonder, do you desire riches and great wealth? If so, do you have what it takes within you to get there? Are you up for the sacrifices as well as the rewards? If not, get over it. Be content.

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