Sunday, January 21, 2007

Why Do We Do Anything?

I'm almost finished reading "Freakanomics" by economist Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. It's a great read. It will really get you thinking about what drives people, including yourself. The book explores the incentives that drive behavior, from a crack dealer to a cheating sumo wrestler. It asks questions that people don't stop to ask, like:

'What is really behind the drop in crime the U.S. has had in recent years?'

'Is a child more likely to die by a misfired gun kept at their friend's house or by drowning in their friend's swimming pool?'

'How much affect does parenting really have on a child?'

Perhaps I'm an existential "freakonomist". I've been asking questions all my life. And there are still more. The biggest of which is, "Why do we do anything at all?" What happens when all the obvious incentives become meaningless?

I'm paralyzed by this lack of meaning in my life. What if I venture off in another direction in my life only to find that it is complete crap, much like my religious upbringing. I can't remember a time when I didn't feel this way. I think it's just become much more apparent due to recent life events.

In everything that I do, I am constantly wondering if there is any real point to what I'm doing. Is there any tangible value to my efforts? It's part of the reason I work in retail. I'm a cog in the corporate wheel, but the satisfaction of helping someone is immediate. I work in a bookstore. I help them locate their book. They buy it. My purpose is obvious. It's measurable. It has a beginning and an end.

They come. I find. They buy. They leave. Nice and tidy. But the pay is shit. Oh life, why must you mock me so?

tall penguin

No comments: