Each year, millions of people make New Year Resolutions. There is so much evidence against their usefulness that it is silly to explore the notion here. Instead of making New Year Resolutions, why not pick a word or two to focus on? A few years back, I stumbled on this post by Chris Brogan. After that, I chose three words for each year.
Two Schools of Thought
In college, I took several business courses. One of the principal lessons: begin with the end in mind. I think that this is—at the surface—good advice. After all, where would a business go without a customer in mind? Where would a ship sail without a port in the mind of the Captain? But there is a dangerous assumption in that question. It assumes that the end-point can be known.
Many businesses start with a customer in mind that has zero interest in their product, but by some miracle or shear dumb-luck, the product falls into the hands of an unrecognized market and launches into the stratosphere. Consider Facebook, or Google. Neither was originally developed for its primary user-base.
Along with many classes in business, I also took several courses in Philosophy and Theology. These courses stressed another worldview. Simply put: How you live is more important than how you end up. This is totally different from, “begin with the end in mind.” Instead, it could be summed up as, “begin, keep it up, and let the end take care of itself.
What if the key to living a well-examined life was to synthesize these two concepts into one unified direction. For instance, “Begin with an end in mind and purposefully toward it.” Or, even better, “Begin. The end will show itself sometime.”
If only there was a word that could encapsulate both thoughts into a single concept; one that emotes the decision to wander, with purpose, toward a yet unknown future. What if there was a word that aligned with one of my favorite Buddhist teachings, popularized by Alan Watts?
”the future is a concept—it doesn’t exist There is no such thing as tomorrow There never will be because time is always now. That’s one of the things we discover when we stop talking to ourselves and stop thinking. We find there is only present, only an eternal now.”
Sidenote:Can we agree that there are infinite possible futures? If so, then why do we go toward one or the other? Why not leave the future open, and instead, focus our energy on living with purpose, in the present. If Mr. Watts is right, there is no other places we can actually exist anyway, so why bother trying?
If only there was a word…
One of the reasons that I love to wander, is that things sometimes just…show up. A few weeks back, I was just minding my own business when three people on three social media platforms all messaged or tagged me in three different posts. Each said, “Matt, this reminds me of you.” And all three referenced one word: coddiwomple.
”Coddiwomple (v.) To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination” -From UrbanDictionary.com
Now, this word—purists may say it’s not a word—seems to be relatively new. The etymology of coddiwomple is, at best, suspect. But who cares? It’s an awesome word. And I love what it sums up. If nothing else, it proves that I am not alone. Others feel the need to wander with purpose toward an unknown or unknowable future. That’s damn good news!