North Carolina, 2011

I had an hour-long call with a marketing company that helps you better advertise your books and materials. So, when I got off the call and looked at today’s concept, I chuckled some to myself. “I’ll make you famous, kid.”

It there a theme developing here? Like in some way this middle ground, a Goldilocks principle of not being too hot or too cold? Is there a point where you have enough? Money? Fame, ambition? Where you just hit the pause button on the rate race and just chill for a while?

It feels hardwired into us, I think, the idea of wanting more or worrying that sitting back and just chilling equates with the slow movement towards loss and de-valuing. It growth always a requirement to expand and take over? Or should sustainability be more of goal? Is the idea that we push for more because that is our way, or we pause and reflect at some point and just say “you know what? I think I have enough.”  Enough is a powerful word.

While ambition drives us from our little fishy, footless-wandering beginnings out of the primordial—does it always put us into a better place? Is there a point where our ambition is counterproductive to our sense of peace?

I think ambition is here more because it primarily hinders our larger sense of equilibrium and balance. To be too ambitus is folly. I’m not sure I subscribe fully to the idea that any ambition necessarily equates with a problem, but maybe it is something that demands being kept in check some.

While I think others would describe me as ambitious in my work, I have tried to install some of the exact opposite attitudes into my kids. That they should instead follow their inner desire to sort out their happiness, rather than pushing them hard to that work or academic rat race.

And of course, in some ways, this is easier because of privilege again. Not everyone can provide a house for their kids to take the easier path moving forward into college, a job or life. And maybe they would all want some more installation of ambition. Helping them climb the ladder of success and to the be the very best they can be.

I suppose everyone has these questions and regrets, particularly manifest in their children. Did we push them too hard? Not hard enough? What values did we instill? Are they the values that we the parents had—is that a good thing considering the different kind of world they live in now?

This one leaves me a bit more with more questions than answers. But for now, I can contemplate my ambition for myself and think about how much is too much. And perhaps, when I pause in reaching for the next, perhaps there is something in that quiet moment that speaks to me as well.