“To live for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”—
- Robert M. Pirsig
So I only just recently started reading Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and it’s been a delightful read so far - if only all philosophical works could be this readable. The quote above though is one of the more provocative ideas of his that I’ve come across. It makes you do a double-take, sit back and think about it for a while.
It seems natural to aim for a particular goal (and I assume Pirsig is talking about life goals here”, not smaller intraday goals such as “I will finish reading two chapters of this textbook tonight”), but could this lead to tunnel vision? If you set out to, for instance, become a millionaire by the age of 40 and then open a local hospital, would all your years leading up to 40 be confined or choked to a single mode of living? Where you would make decisions that may be painful to you or your loved ones but you feel are absolutely necessary to make in order to reach your life goal? Decisions that would sacrifice numerous opportunities to make yourself or someone close to you happy a number of times over?
What is the noblest of paths?
The sides of the mountain may indeed sustain life, but the top sure has a wonderful view.