Make us your home page

Searching for the meaning of life in yuppyville

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

'Bored' and searching for meaning in yuppyville

Snoozeville, USA: I'm a part of your typical yuppyville couple. Live outside a big metropolitan area. Work in corporate America. Have a puppy. Will have babies. Just upgraded to an SUV. Everything seems A-OK. Problem? I'm bored. A little freaked out that "this is it." Have bouts where I dream of moving away to an island and becoming a bartender. Don't hate my career, don't love it.

Is this a normal emotion? Or should I be taking different actions to make my life more meaningful to me? I know I can go travel the world looking for what's missing, and never find it.

Carolyn: Please please talk openly of this with your mate. It is normal . . . common? . . . epidemic? . . . but that doesn't mean it's safe to dismiss.

Even now, when hunting and gathering mean parking and shopping, we spend a good amount of our daily lives on the trudge of survival. Earning, eating, exercising, cleaning, sleeping. And, dying a little.

Somewhere in there, we (at least, we who get stuck in our own heads) have to inject a sense of purpose, a reason for earning/eating/etc., to make the dying okay.

Unless you found your way to yuppyville through spiritual means, it probably just looked like the thing to do for persons of a certain intelligence, education and ambition. As purposes go, if you don't mind my saying, that's crap.

That doesn't mean your life is. It could be extraordinary, with the right purpose for it all to serve. Purposes don't need to be crusades; your spouse/dog/kids can inspire you, your quiet faith, your work/barbecue pit/tennis game, the hobby or cause you couldn't sustain in any other context but this stable, mainstream life. It could be staring you in the face, unnoticed. Or, it could be out of the mainstream, too scary to see.

It often helps to ask, what would you do if you had everything? Had nothing?

You've already chosen a partner in life, so enlist this partner in figuring out Phase 2. S/he may well be feeling as you do.

The alternative to "taking different actions" to make your life more meaningful is to suppress your boredom and ignore its alarm, and what happens then is rarely called "normal." The word you hear more often is "stereotypical." And, painful for all involved.

Deal with it now. And don't make the followup mistake of (1) seeing that your mate is freaked by your admission and (2) backing down. That's just suppression again. You both will have to be brave.

Anonymous: To Snoozeville: Wrong question, sweetie. If you are bored, then you have the responsibility to make yourself unbored. Yes, absolutely talk to your spouse, but don't expect him/her to make your life exciting and wonderful. The way to being fulfilled is to find a passion outside yourself that is worthy of your time and effort. Make it a partnership with your spouse, and you can be happy anywhere, even with a nothing job in the sticks.

Carolyn: Some passions render location and vocation irrelevant, but those aren't the only kind worth having (since some passions are for job or place themselves). Get fears and dreams out there — let them say what, where, why.

Searching for the meaning of life in yuppyville 12/16/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours