A Life Less Ordinary

“What do you desire?
What makes you itch?
What sort of a situation would you like?
Let’s suppose – I do this often in vocational guidance of students.
They come to me and say:
‘Well, um, We’re getting out of college and
we haven’t the faintest idea what we want to do.’
So I always ask the question,
‘What would you like to do if money were no object?
How would you really enjoy spending your life?’
It’s so amazing, the result of our educational system, that crowds of students say,
‘Well, we’d like to be painters.
We’d like to be poets.
We’d like to be writers.
But everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way.’
Another person says,
‘Well, I’d like to live and out-of-doors life and ride horses.’
I say, ‘Do you want to teach on a riding school?
Um, let’s go through with it, what do you want to do?’
When we finally get down to something which the individual says they really want to do,
I will say to them ‘…you do that
and forget the money.’
Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing,
you will spend your life completely wasting your time.
You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living.
That is, to go on doing things you don’t like doing.
Which is stupid!
Better to have a short life
that is full of what you like doing…
…than a long life spent in a miserable way.
And after all,
if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is…
…you can eventually become a master of it.
The only way to become a master of something is to be really “with it”.
And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is.
So, don’t worry too much.
Somebody is interested in everything
and anything you can be interested in you will find out which one.
But is absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like,
in order to go on spending things you don’t like,
doing things you don’t like
and to teach our children to follow in the same track.
See, what we are doing is, we are bringing up children educated
to live the same sort of lives we ended
In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in living
by bringing up their children,
to bring up their children, to do the same things.
So is all wretch and no vomit.
It never gets there.
So, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question…
What do I desire?”
– Alan Watts



  1. Good message. I too am struggling with this.

    As a Christian, I was blessed with receiving a similar message through Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. It is an excellent book that’s very easy to read. Eldredge talks about the heart of a man and what God designed us for (each of us has a mission that can be found in the desire of our hearts).

    In his book, Eldredge shared this quote:

    “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
    ? Howard Thurman

    It’s easy to hear these messages and feel an excitement that had gone dormant long ago, but I pray that God would direct me and help me with the courage to turn away from what sounds logical (and also heart-deadening) and take the adventure that He put me on this earth to live.