It's important to have fundamental goals in life. You can't pursue too many goals at once, and you only get one life, so you need to choose your goals with care.
So far, I've pursued two fundamental goals: survival and propagation. And I'm happy with the progress I've made: I'm not dead yet and, having fathered two children, my genes will swim in the pool for at least one more generation.
I am not interested in further propagation, leaving survival as my only remaining life goal. Survival is the most important goal but, thankfully, at this stage in my life it is not a very challenging goal. Nor is it, by itself, a very inspiring goal.
I therefore need a new fundamental goal in my life. And not just any goal will do.
Propagation was, for me, a very challenging goal, so I'd like my new goal to be at least as challenging. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll just coast through the remainder of my increasingly pointless life until I die from boredom. Of course, some goals, such as achieving world peace or eradicating stupidity from the world, are too challenging, recipes for despair and depression. One must be realistic.
A good goal, like propagation, should also be fulfilling. Dying with the most money would not fulfill me. Nor, if I'm honest with myself, would devoting my life exclusively to serving others. An ideal goal would fulfill both my selfish and my selfless sides -- something propagation managed to do.
A good goal must be compatible with my talents, personality and predilections. Otherwise I'd be doomed to unhappiness and failure. Again, one must be realistic. How likely is it that I'll reform my weaknesses over the latter half of my life? It's best to play to one's strengths.
Avoid vague goals like "I want to be happy." Wishing won't make it so. Instead of wishing for happiness, dig deep to determine which goals are sufficiently fundamental to you that their pursuit and attainment are likely to support, and be supported by, everything, or nearly everything, one does in a happy life. Survival is obviously the most fundamental goal, and for most people propagation is a close second. Both tend to support, and be supported by, a happy life. On the other hand, the pursuit of pure pleasure is, for most, a bad goal, for its pursuit usually leads to an unhappy life. Similarly, the pursuit of a very narrow or shallow goal, such as hitting the most home runs or being the most photographed model or doing anything that gets you in the Guinness Book of World Records, can easily twist one's life into a sickeningly distorted perversion, bereft of all but the most ephemeral happiness.
So, you see, it's not easy to choose a life goal. I suspect many never do. Others, once they achieve their initial goals of surviving and propagating, drift along without goals, their lives descending into meaninglessness, irrelevance and bitterness, relieved only by senescence and death.
I don't want that so, after giving this much thought, I've decided my new life goal is to achieve superfluidity. Not to be confused with superfluity, a very different goal, superfluidity is an unusual state of matter characterized by a frictionless flow. This state of matter has so far been observed only in liquid helium cooled down near absolute zero, but I hope over my remaining years to develop my own permanent state of frictionless flow.
Superfluidity is like the Taoist ideal of wu-wei, action without action. It's akin to what athletes call the "zone," their elusive source of effortless achievement. It's losing yourself, it's a state of grace, it's nirvana, the ultimate melding of thoughts, senses, abilities and actions into a perfect harmony of living.
You might think superfluidity is too challenging a goal, that I should try something easier like feeding the world or curing cancer. But I've already experienced superfluidity: when I, a poor golfer, hit a 300 yard drive down the middle of the fairway without even trying, or when I, as a beginning tennis player, aced my tennis coach with a booming serve down the T without before I knew what I was doing, or when I, as a student with a history of poor grades, suddenly achieved the highest grades when I stopped thinking so much, or when I, as a blogger suffering writer's block, wrote my favorite post -- all 1,000+ words of it -- straight through in less than one hour without changing a word, I felt the frictionless flow of superfluidity. I am confident I'll feel it again, and, with the right focus, I'm hopeful that one day it will arrive and decide never to leave me.
Superfluidity may seem to be a selfish goal, but I have a feeling that, once attained, my inner enlightenment will serve as a beacon to the world, selflessly lighting the way to a better tomorrow.
Starting today, my new life goals are survival and superfluidity. What are yours?