I find it funny when the world’s biggest first world problem keeps rearing its ugly head over and over again in such consistent fashion. I say ‘funny’ because I want to make light of such a common situation.
For most of us with privilege, we will generally have the option of choice – i.e. We have the luxury to be able to make our own decisions. When you add in the conception that this means we will have an enjoyable and fulfilling life, it begins to sound like the fairy tale many of us were sold when we were growing up. I call this ‘The Promised Dream.’
However, the problem with most people’s perception of ‘The Promised Dream’ is that it creates a surreal world; one where it means that we eventually live in a reality where we can never truly be satisfied. I’d argue that this is simply because of the perceived potential of uncharted territory and the common phrase ‘the grass is always greener of the otherside.’ I could also blame the education system again; as I did in the ‘70 Percent Profit – link here.’ However, this time I’ll leave it to Sir Ken Robinson and his brilliant TED talk about education paradigms (youtube link here), as he does a much better job than I ever could.
So moving back to options and over to my passive aggressive tendencies, brings me to the ‘horrible scenario’ of holidaying in London as I pursue the promised dream ‘owed to me.’ I love London and I could make a never ending list of why I like it. Yet I could also compile an equal list of what I don’t like. Here is a perfect example of how the promised dream distorts our reality and stops us from truly enjoying ourselves.
Example 1: It’s London brah. A city of endless possibilities. High end fashion, captivating history, so big in size such that you can and will lose yourself in it; it’s obvious you’ve got so many options. So what’s the irrational first world problem? With each additional option, we now have to ‘deal with’ another issue – e.g. Needing to have good weather to take enough Instagram pictures, having to climb 5 flights of stairs to alight between tube lines that are frequent and actually on time or having to pay in pounds when you could pay less in euros just by taking a short train ride under the channel – the list goes on.
Coupled with an irrational weight of expectation, all we see here is that options seem to add further obligation to a seemingly never ending list of wants as we pursue nirvana.
Example 2: It’s London brah. Harry Potter, west end musicals, the sky garden, Burberry trench coats and the bathrooms at the Hunter S pub – i.e. Options and yes there are even toilets in London that are tourist attractions in themselves. I could list the problems with these options; travel time, cost, weather and so on, yet the key difference here is that ‘options’ or ‘dreams’ take on a different meaning if you apply it to something bigger than your immediate surroundings.
Options are great for one thing; forging your own identify on your own terms. If you can embrace this fact then the promised dream probably holds true.
For me, the few options mentioned in example 2, were things I either really wanted or thought I needed to experience. In my pursuit of this, I managed to get on the wrong train to Hogwarts. Yet despite my annoyance at the time, this probably made the journey all the more memorable and reminded me that the luxury of options should be enjoyed and cherished. Once I did this, the ideals of ‘The Promised Dream’ became much more attainable.
Having now returned from my trip to Europe, I’ll be using each city that I visited as a theme for subsequent posts. I had an amazing time away and hope that you enjoy sharing some of these experiences with me. There will be many highs, a few lows and plenty of blatant consumerism of course. Stay tuned.
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