Apathy is easy. We have an unlimited supply of it. Cheap, common, mundane, indifference flows freely out from the majority of mankind. Love and hate are hard to find, but I can more or less guarantee that no matter who you are or what you do, the great percentage of the world doesn’t really care about it. The pessimist would say that apathy is actually the default setting, the rule rather than the exception.
But all of this is not to cast us in a negative light. No misanthropic aspersions or ridicule here. The fact is that people have only a limited amount of fucks to give about a rather infinite amount of problems, issues, dilemmas and causes, all of which are, let’s face it: trivial, miniscule blips in the cosmic radar of life and death.
And if you have a few fucks to give, count yourself lucky. You are truly privileged to be born with an engaged mind in the first place. Consider it both a blessing and a horrible curse. The majority of us lose no sleep dwelling on injustice, on the unfairness of life, nor do we swim in that bitterness into which the realization of our own powerlessness ultimately transforms if focused on too steadily. For the most of us go through life simply shrugging our shoulders at everything that happens around us.
And why not? What is wrong with a bit of apathy? Everywhere, all the time, people are demanding that YOU CARE. If you don’t care then you are selfish – they will shame you until you do care. Care bought from shame is not really care at all. We all pin the breast cancer awareness ribbons on our SUVs because it is the popular thing to do. In such a way concern becomes a fad – and low-commitment, low-cost fads are by far humanity’s favorite kind.
But we rarely confront the real question: Besides those people close to me and those things immediately in front of my face, why should I care? What does the Amazon rainforest mean to me when my taxes are due? Why do refugees across the planet deserve anything from me when my mother is dying? Should I fight against the oppression of alien figures, speaking in unknown tongues, all while suffering from high blood pressure myself?
All of us are being depleted, being chased by something, being torn asunder by some conflict real or imagined. Things in the distance may pass us by unnoticed. Contrary to popular belief, this does not make us lesser human beings. In fact, it makes us who we are as a species.
But these are dramatic examples. I’m being dramatic. But this human apathy goes further. It is a more commonplace and powerful force than we often reckon. Why should I use a blinker for the sake of the cars behind me? Why should I wait for others to exit the elevator before I pile on? Why should I start a business and strive and plan if the government will redistribute the fruits of my labor? I could feel guilty for breaking my word. Or I could just not. So you see, apathy has, for a large part, shaped the human race. So standard is it, so day to day, that we write stories and histories exclusively about situations in which there was a surprising lack of apathy involved.
And that is the wonder of humanity- that despite how easy it is to not care, some people still do. There are people fighting to preserve rare species of birds on continents they’ve never visited, to send children they will never meet to schools they’ve never heard of. In truth, it seems arbitrary where we put the small and precious number of fucks we have to give. This is where the human animal philosophy can help those suffering from motivation issues.
At its core, apathy really is just a lack of motivation. While it isn’t quite the buzzword that “motivation” is, the two emotions stem from the same place in the human mind. When I’m procrastinating about writing that short-story, visiting my in-laws, or going for that run, the reason is really that I don’t care enough about these things. I don’t care about the short-story enough to make the effort. My in-laws bore me. I care more about my Netflix fix than I do about stunning calf muscles.
And that is all fine, but the true essence of getting motivated, then, becomes easy to distill.
Prioritize your cares.
Don’t beat around the bush here: this is your life we are talking about.
It is simple really. Pull out a pen and paper.
I want you to write down ten things that you care about. You don’t need to rank them or order them in any specific manner. Just write them down.
Now strike out five of them.
What you are left with are the five things that you most care about in the world. Five things that move you, that arise your passions, that leave you feeling full and satisfied. If you spent all day tending to any of the five things on the list, working towards them, or simply just enjoying them, could you fall asleep with a sense that it had all been time very well spent indeed?
This is a terribly important exercise for those lacking a sense of purpose or motivation. This is a surefire cure for the all-consuming apathy which is part of who we are as an animal.
The happy ending is that we have gotten to a point past the deer of the forest, who care only for berries and a doe in heat.
We, if we are lucky, have at least a few fucks to give.
What are you going to do with yours?
4 thoughts on “Motivation and Apathy”
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