Have you ever been with someone who always demanded that things “move forward;” that was never satisfied with the present situation unless tangible signs of progress abounded? Did they say the word with a slight valley-girl cadence so that it sounded like ‘faux-word?’ “Faux-word;” “we aren’t moving faux-word;” “I need you to demonstrate that your career is moving faux-word;” “I don’t see us moving faux-word together.” What a delicious little parapraxis.
I have known a few of these people and it always struck me as beyond ironic that this word really was a faux word, a word with no real meaning other than communicating a vague message of “I’m displeased.” These people were never satisfied in the present and were running desperately from the past, so of course their elusive happiness was in the future, right? It’s like they had no awareness of their own mortality or something; like they didn’t understand where forward eventually got you. None of us are getting out of this thing alive, so why focus all of one’s energies on progress instead of peace or passion, caring or character?
Now, I’m not against progress, per se, just against running from yourself and others. If you are truly unhappy with yourself, yes, you could use this to fuel some accomplishment, but I think it would be far more productive for you to take two steps back, peer into the past, and sit with it in the present.
I’d like to invert William James’ famous aphorism: Happiness does not happen without action, but action does not always lead to happiness. Let me end this little train of thought with a picture: the result of my moving forward with an adventure in Southern Thailand in 2009 that was moving a little too fast faux-word.