Progress should be moving on to the next thing.
I come from a long line of hoarders. It’s true. Every relative I’ve ever met has an excess of something (including yours truly.) Although, I spend a considerable amount of time telling myself it’s not true.
It’s easy to look at the guy down the block who can’t park in his garage and say, “At least that’s not me.” Or maybe there is that one farm with every piece of machinery imaginable rusting in the weeds that lets you tell yourself, “Our place is pretty minimal, we use all of our equipment.”
But when is enough enough? And I’m not just talking accumulated yard games or rusty farm equipment. There are multiple ways to hoard that are pretty darn socially acceptable…. home square footage, 401ks, college credits, that one drawer full of free pens…
Yet, how many old people do you know that downsize to a townhome, or get to 70 and have to take required minimum distributions from their 401k? And even college credits become ethereal, there are classes I apparently took that I can’t even remember. Let’s just say I’m technically qualified to set up a lagrangian equation to optimize functions in a microeconomic setting, but nowadays, I wouldn’t know where to start. As for the pens, I’ve dumped that drawer and started over too many times to count.
The truth is gum always loses its taste. You can keep popping another stick but after a while, you just have to switch brands or get into lifesavers, or Werthers… or go back to Marlboros. 😉
Now, I’m not saying it’s all garbage, this isn’t a call to monastic life. You have to have a hobby on a weeknight after all. For sure, money, education, and pens facilitate that sort of thing. It’s just that I get the sense that progress has come to mean, “Let’s just keep pushing the same envelope until the end of eternity.” Or rather, progress is repeating a feat on a larger scale, instead of moving on to the next thing.
better more satisfying measure of progress is simply the variety in life, the experiences mastered, or the details observed. I’m of the opinion that few things facilitate this like the outdoors. Seasons change, plants bloom, and animals do their thing. And once the gum loses its taste you can always go somewhere else.
This post was written by Nick Schmitz, May 2021.