If you’ve ever been fired, dumped, evicted or displaced, you know how a sudden shift in your circumstances can rattle your sense of identity in unexpected ways.

Without that job title, will you have the same mojo? In a different house, on a different street, will you still feel at peace with yourself? Without your girlfriend or your wife, without regular calls from this friend or that, will you still feel sure of yourself?

Maybe becoming a mature adult means understanding what makes us happy, what keeps us alive, and what might be holding us back.

Most of us never quite adjust to the realities of adulthood. We greet the unrelenting responsibilities and inconveniences that accompany the dream – bill payments, dentist appointments, lobolo, meal preparation – with the eye-rolling exasperation of teenagers.

Having spent our youth imagining that being an adult meant reading great books and sipping sherry in leather armchairs in the “study,” we’re indignant to discover that we don’t like sherry, or that we don’t have a study, or even that, when placed in an actual study with a book and a glass of sherry, we find ourselves wanting to play Call of Duty instead.

Growing up kinda sucks.

28 Replies to “Reflection”

  1. Dude there is no formula but the best that I have found is the ability to be comfortable in your own skin.

    There are somethings that come with age which you chose to embrace or reject. They can not be forced upon you nor can they be things that you adopt because of crowd behaviour. When inelasticity of character sets in, in your thirties you know who you are so crowd theory should not apply.

    One thing that you must also remember, which we seldom do, is that you are not your job or your title. You are not Mr Black because of your wife, you are you. The so when you define yourself by appendages – be they titles or jobs, when you lose those you yourself end up being lost.

    In my thirties, I do not play video games nearly as much as I used to. Do I still enjoy them – yes thoroughly. I read but still watch far too much television. I drink whiskey but beer is my poison of choice for regular drinking. I own blazers but enjoy my jeans and combats. I do like fine dining more and feel that certain places are no longer my scene but that’s as much about age as the people you move with and they fact they people you used to move with have also moved. We like the friendliness of association.

    Finally in the same way that I removed my Liverpool shirt from the car there are somethings which you have no choice about – you have to grow up about those things.

  2. The best thing is not to look for someone to make you happy, or things to make you happy – be happy with yourself, and everything else is academic.

    LOL about the Liverpool shirt … I hear you. But mine is still always with me.

  3. One of these cosmetic companies has one of their numerous slogans as ‘for beauty that is more than skin deep’. If your mojo depends only on you having a good job or a pretty wife or a flashy house and car, then it’s nothing more than swagger. Because if you have worked hard to get all those things, surely you have the qualities and the characteristics that allow you to gain the fruits of your labours. And having lost your titles and the various physical accoutrements, surely doesn’t strip you of those capabilities. The essence of you remains, although how you then choose to manifest that, might alter. Life is always about uncertainties. Handiti zvanzi the only constant is change. *retires into a corner wondering if she is actually making any sense*

  4. That’s the cruel irony of life, you spend some portion of your youth wanting to be all growed up, then when you get all growed up, the glossy veneer of adult life turns out to be some cheap ass hello kitty varnish that’s cracked and peeling.

    If playing COD is what makes you happy, then by all means play COD until you’ve had your fill, if fine dining and good wine crank your dial… well, what the hell are you waiting for!

    Unfortunately, no one mentioned the fine print, there is no instruction manual, you just gotta strive to find happiness in whatever way feeds your soul.

    its sad but true, the magic fades as we grow older.

    Tyler Durden: You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

  5. I don’t totally agree. I think that although there is a foundation to who you are, there is still a tendecy of your environment having a big effect and there is nothing wrong with that. Take the wife example, is it really wrong to have her have some influence on who you are? Whatever happened to ‘I am a better person for knowing you’? I think it’s rather sweet. And possible goes towards explaining the pain of heart break. I have tended to judge people by the person they bring out in me when I am around them, and not necessarily directly by whether I like them or not. Who you are, surely, is how you react to your environment (including your experiecnces), thus you are as much a product of your environment as you are of your genes or whatever people above were refering to. I don’t know if that makes any sense or meets Buff’s standard of silliness, but that’s just me.

  6. Of course the form we get it in is relevant, dude. The whole point is that, you have to be happy in your own skin … if you’re not, whatever form or individual is making you “content” is fallible, finite, fickle.

    What happens to you when you lose your grounding, that’s the whole point?

  7. @ Mos Native, if what brings me contentedness then harms other people, is it still irrelevant? what if it’s unlawful, what then?

  8. jeepers, murder by numbers!

    My brevity seems to be my undoing. Let me elaborate.

    @Beezy – What is real? What is infallible?
    My premise is that what we all seek is to be in a state in which we do not ‘want’ or ‘long’, in whatever aspect, physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally … we seek a stability, a serene state. When you want or long, your heart/mind is not at rest. It is this state of rest which we seek by varying means some of which you mentioned in the post.

    The debate here is by what means one achieves this state. Take note that the person who finds contentment from driving a brand new X6 is fulfilling the same need as the one who consciously decides that it is futile to go after an X6 and is then content with his rusty Toyota Corolla. For the X6 dude, do not focus on him getting the X6 as an end in itself, but as a means to an end.
    Both dudes have a want which they are resolving by different means.
    The argument which you are raising is that using the X6 to feel content is finite or fickle; but the basis of your argument is that that material method can suddenly run dry (as surely as fortunes change) and you then fault his method of attaining contentedness simply because of the certainty that his fortunes will turn and he will be very discontent once again and also that he shall simply always want more.
    The flaw with this reasoning and also its non-superiority over the other is two-fold:


    What does this mean for the person who CAN maintain his state of contentedness with material things? A Saudi prince or a British Royal or a Rockefeller shall surely not want and shall always be able to buy the odd Bentley or holiday island and are thus immune to the downside of a turn in fortune. They can sustain the means to their state of contentedness, so what is the problem? Bearing in mind that in both cases, the real problem is reaching that state.


    The Toyota Corolla dude consciously (by what you are referring to as maturity) decides or realises that what he seeks is that blissful mental state and therefore makes peace with his whatever material lot life throws at him. He gradually, and wisely too, notices the futility of chasing after material benefaction. This is fine. However, like the contentedness obtained from the X6, this state of mind is not guaranteed to be permanent. We are all much aware of the changing moods and attitudes of the human mind. In much the same manner by which Toyota dude made peace with his lot, he can even more suddenly, wake up depressed and wanting and longing. The fact that he is content today, is no guarantee that he shall be content tomorrow. His state of contentedness is no less precarious than that of the material man. That ‘grounding’ you mention is no more assured Toyota dude than it is X6 dude.

    Remember the beast, what is sort, is a state of contentedness. The need for it is always there. It needs to be fed – and regularly too. Whether you feed the beast a new luxury car every year, an upgraded smart phone every 6 months, a blow job from a different college girl every weekend, a dose of motivational hoo-hah from the pastor every Sunday, an expression of music composition or written article, a spiritual reassurance of the singular completeness of your being, or yet still, the adoring look from your kids every evening, or the numerous other ways of feeding him – it is up to each individual what or how and irrelevant to anyone else.

    @El – I was assuming that we’re working within the bounds of reason and therefore it wasn’t necessary to qualify that.

  9. From a capitalistic perspective each individual man is the best judge of what makes him happy or not. Since every individual has this capacity to discern it is up to him to define his worldly experience and NOT to be judged by any individual what he does as long as he does not impinge on another’s freedom. Thus he must exercise his mind and find a vocation that best suits his abilities, sensibilities and is in demand.. He must through his own volition without any coercion decided how he divides his time between work or leisure, a wife or mistress, X6 or Corolla, etc . After tolling in his vocation he must be justly rewarded and he is morally entitled to his full payment for the labour toll- and this he must receive without any tax.
    Given the reward for his toll he must spend it in the best way he deems fit in the whore house or in the church house, At lotto or in Porto. If in a day’s hours after expending his money and energies he finds his whole lot not happy then he must be given the opportunity to try and trial until he finds those pursuits and ideals that make him happy. Acknowledging that happiness is fleeting and momentary he must have the wits and courage to seek wisdom to disdain in his decisions and bravery to realise that when his vocation or life circumstances have become stale he should not blame anyone but be courageous to change and seek his fortune elsewhere.

  10. how content is one if they regularly feel the need to “feed the beast”. are u satisfied if u always need more?

  11. @ACM – “each individual man is the best judge of what makes him happy or not. Since every individual has this capacity to discern it is up to him to define his worldly experience and NOT to be judged by any individual what he does as long as he does not impinge on another’s freedom.”

    Briefly the point I was trying to put across.

    p.s. this agreement must stop 🙂

    @Anonymous – the need for more is not a choice – it is the nature of man.

  12. Life by its very nature is finite and fickle, you could be happily driving an X6 in the afternoon and be arrested that same evening for externalizing funds, lose everything AND end up driving a rusty Toyota Corolla by the end of the week!

    So does this mean that true happiness and contentment can only be a state of mind? essentially, I think yes.

    Should the moments where we feel most content and happy be more important than the measurable years we live for? Or is human nature itself so fickle that we unconsciously sabotage those very moments of happiness that we claim to strive for?

  13. What I’m saying is that it’s neither the X6 or the Toyota Corolla that makes you content … it’s how you feel about yourself.

    Don’t bring it round saying the X6 or Corolla is what makes you feel content about yourself, hence you’re content, LOL.

  14. Man has insatiable needs and limited resources. Economics is wisdom on how to satisfy those needs and be happy at a given moment in time with the given scarce resources.

    So its not that the man driving the corolla is happy, he may actually be very unhappy if his desire is to drive an X6. but limited resources force him to be “content ” with a corolla.

  15. Like Chris Rock’s regular bloke who is only as faithful as his options.

    Or the overweight girl who decides inner beauty rates above the fickle physical.

    Or the intellectually challenged bloke who decides street smarts is the real deal.

    Or yet, the girl who doesnt get asked out on the regular and decides to be content with not having a man.

    I know a number of content ‘im not defined by material shit’ corolla dudes who erm … changed … after they got the means.

  16. LOL! @ Mos Native ‘im not defined by material shit’ corolla dudes who erm … changed … after they got the means.

    True dat! Humans are just funny creatures…

  17. there is noone who is truly content because that can only be achieved by ignoring others and what they think.

    how many of you monks have sold your Ferraris?

  18. it’s not he who has the bigger car is happier or more content, it could very well be the guy walking derives the greatest satisfaction. The happiest is he who can maximise utility (unit of happiness) given his present resources.

    Suppose you have two guys who have credit worth an X6, the one max’s out his credit and buys the X6, the other buys a corolla and with the rest of the credit buys 5 yearly holiday trips for himself and the missus. Who has derived the greatest happiness/is more content?

  19. “how many of you monks have sold your Ferraris?”

    The irony of that book is that Sharma has probably made a shitload of dollars from that book and i dont think he has said “fuck it, i’ve got inner peace, im giving away all this meaningless material gain!” 🙂

  20. @Mos that’s what it’s all about we lie about the inner peace being teh goal and that money doesn’t matter but the truth of the matter is that if have two guys who are exactly the same, the oke with more sheets will be happier.

    even if he is a simple person because money will allow him more comforts, allow him to give to his kids and wife more, to go on holiday (even if it’s backpacking or sand duning in the Namib).

    We don’t all have to be rich. Nay do we all want to be rich but having money to do what you want and enjoying it is the key.

    The oke can be happy with his corolla but he still needs blick to buy it.

  21. Happiest is he who can use whatever limited resources he has to the maximum. The Masaii villager could be happier than the millionaire on Wall Street simply because one is more efficient with his means than the other. One could easily mistake materialism with achievement when its simply compensatory behaviour.

    Perhaps Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is instructive: the man whose physical needs have not been satisfied is more likely to be materialistic. Whereas other men become greatly satisfied with the more esoteric trivia.

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