What is it like not to have any ambition?
How much does it matter? Is ambition overrated? Is it not easier just to have an easy life were the boat is never rocked and we just accepted our lot in life?
I know someone that I see most days; let’s call him Kevin, who doesn’t have an ounce of ambition in his body. Or his character, if you prefer.
At 50 years old, he approaches every day the same; that is, without any goal, other than to get through it without any hitches or problems.
Kevin is an amiable, likeable guy. He will always help someone when he can, and gives the impression he has never caused any one harm.
He has never taken a driving lesson, and walks the ten minutes or so to his workplace where he has never shown an interest in progression. He is single, quiet, dependable, and unassuming.
He has one passion, and that is football. As a supporter of Manchester United, in the past he has travelled into Europe and around the country, though now only goes to the occasional game. With myself a supporter of Manchester United’s bitterest rivals Liverpool, it could be expected that he and I would clash.
But he isn’t confrontational at all in his love for United, indeed has been respectful of my club and its achievements. And I respect his commitment to his club. Other than the occasional bit of light banter, there is no edge to our respective football allegiances.
Kevin has no hobbies. He bought a pushbike a couple of years ago, used it twice, since when it has been quicker gathering dust than miles. He doesn’t go to watch films, he doesn’t read books, he only watches television shows from the 70’s and 80’s, and wouldn’t think of subscribing to Netflix or any other streaming platform.
He keeps abreast of current affairs, and he does like music, a regular gig attendee in the past. But only if within easy travelling distance. He has never attended a gym in his life.
There is nothing to dislike about Kevin. And I think it’s true to say, I’ve never met anyone quite like him, totally free of any desire to make a change.
As someone always occupied with my ambitions, whether as a writer or songwriter, I am intrigued how anyone can live completely free of it. I have stressed and strained over the smallest details in my writing, and have agonised over the disappointments that have frequently come my way. I have stood soaked in the pouring rain in despair after receiving a stripping down of my script from a script executive at the BBC, but have got up and began again.
I have also had many highs, and continue to have, many wonderful moments and experiences that make every disappointment more than worthwhile. All because of passion, of ambition.
I also go the cinema and theatre regularly, read every day, go the gym, have ambitions to meet more people and travel. Hell, what am I trying to prove?
Nothing, probably. Practically everyone I know has had, or has, ambition of one kind or another. Find somewhere to live, have children, do better in their job or maybe find a better one, go on holiday now and then. Not particularly spectacular or unique goals, but goals nonetheless, something to get them up in the morning.
Then of course, if not kept in check, ambition can push people to breaking point, or drive someone to obsession. A sense of achievement can be fleeting, as the next higher ambition takes its place.
Does chasing one goal or another make us happier than someone like Kevin? Is living life in complete equilibrium a better alternative? Would the world be a better place? But then, how would medicine, technology, commerce or art advance without ambition?
I couldn’t live like Kevin, and I imagine most reading this couldn’t either. However, that’s not to say I don’t feel a little envious a little at each of his days lived expecting nothing but the same easy pace as the day before.