Imaginary Identity

They say that the music you listen to as a teenager is the music that tends to stick with you later in life.

I grew up listening to a local Afrikaans punk band (provocatively) called Fokofpolisiekar. For the last few days, I've been mulling over the lyrics in their song, Swanesang ("Swan song"):

Die oop pad het sy tol ge-eis
Om vinniger daar te kom sal jy vinniger moet ry
Om vinniger te lewe maak jou vinniger dood

Here is my translation into English:

The open road has taken its toll
To arrive there sooner, you will have to drive faster
Living faster will kill you sooner

This strikes a chord. I have always believed that I have had a very full life, and at a relatively young age (39 😅), I've done and experienced quite a lot.

I mostly look upon my past with great fondness and gratitude, partly because I recognise the good fortune along the way. I also know that I had a near single-minded focus on progress and success for many parts of my journey. I was enamoured with the idea of arriving at the destination, and I got lucky in that I also mostly enjoyed the journey on the way there.

I learnt much later in life that I was also ignorant of the costs that this journey and pursuit created. (My book, Life Profitability, is my best attempt at capturing these lessons.)

The biggest challenge along the way was those moments of the journey that were uncertain, risky, or incredibly tough. In those moments, the experience of the journey was not what made me show up to do the work. Instead, I stuck to the vision of reaching the destination. I learnt grit and resilience and learned more about myself than I could have hoped.

In that, there is also a double-edged sword.

Fokofpolisiekar's song continues:

Slagoffer van jou eie verbeelding
Die droom het 'n nagmerrie geword
Skuldig bevind, morele verkragting

Again, with a translation in my words:

Victim of your own imagination
The dream has become a nightmare
Guilty as charged, moral abuse

So much of who I am lives in the future, and I've had to learn and improve how I live in the present moment. Today, there is a strong correlation between my ability to be consciously in this moment and my general sense of happiness, contentment, connection, and meaning.

I still imagine that future state, though. I have ideas, dreams and unknowns that I'm curious about.

As an entrepreneur, I have also learnt how to distil that dreamy future state into the next three steps I need to take to start progressing. Venturing into the unknown, I have successfully turned an idea into reality.

One of the ways I do that is by really investing myself into the thing I'm working on or doing. I do the same in my relationships. I wear my heart on my sleeve. WYSIWYG. Vulnerability is a natural and comfortable state for me.

And, when the world (where I don't exert control) throws a few curveballs, it's hard not to feel like the dream has become a nightmare. It's hard not to feel captured by my imagination.

I'm still figuring this out. And maybe I'll imagine a version of the truth that calms this enquiry for a new season of life.

In the meantime, I'll meditate on this:

“But who is the thinker—this thinker who has all these thoughts?” Is there a thinker at all, or only thought which puts together the thinker?"

- Jiddu Krishnamurti, The Only Revolution