Jake gets into a cab on a wintery morning. Icicles are forming on the windows and the pavements are frosted in ice. “Where too, sir?” The cab driver asked. Jake was on his way to his freshly founded company. He rented a small place in the financial district that served the purpose of a startup office.
He told the cab driver where he was heading and as he closed the door the driver took off. It was about a 30-minute drive from where he lived, especially in morning traffic. Jake looked outside and chuckled over the struggling pedestrians. They were trying their very best to not slip and fall on the slippery sidewalk.
After a minute or two, the awkward silence in the cab was broken by the taxi driver. “It’s horrible weather outside isn’t it?” He says. Their conversation starts with small talk, the kind that the young entrepreneur rather avoided. He had better things to do than talk about the weather or complain about minor things. But that quickly changed when the taxi driver asks about Jake’s job.
I don’t spend much time thinking about such nonsense things as goals and achievements.
A Conversation With a Cab Driver
Jake tells the man that he is a young entrepreneur starting his own financial business. He’s excited but also shares with the taxi driver that he is far from where he wants to be. He has many goals to accomplish, and too many tasks to finish before he can really be satisfied with his business venture. The taxi driver nodes and then remains silent.
Jake asks the man if he is satisfied with his job. He assumes the man isn’t. In his eyes there are many things to do and accomplish in life and being a taxi driver isn’t one of them. Jake is the kind of man that still beliefs life is about accomplishments, money, and goals. “Oh I love my job, sir. Thanks for asking.” The cab driver answers.
“You like your job? Isn’t there anything you want to rather do? Some big dream of yours, or a goal you set for yourself? Don’t you want to have your own taxi business or something?” Jake doesn’t understand how this man can be content with his job.
“No sir, I don’t spend much time thinking about such nonsense things as goals and achievements.” The cab driver calmly answers.
Jake is stunned. He is quickly trying to clear his thoughts. “Nonsense?” He thinks to himself. “How can goals and achievements be nonsense. They are the essence of life. His goals and achievements make him a better man.” Jake thinks. “Why don’t you want to have goals? Don’t you want to be the best version of yourself in this life?” Jake asks the cab driver. “By the way what’s your name?” He adds.
“My name is Sullie.” the cab driver gently answers. “Sir, why would I need to have goals to be the best version of myself?” Sullie asks. “Well, they give life meaning. They make you happy. Achieving your dreams, and goals are the things that give life meaning.” The young entrepreneur answers. “It’s what makes us become the best version of ourselves.”
“And when will we be that ‘best version of ourselves’ sir?” Sullie asks. “I don’t know. One day we will. Which day or how long I don’t know.” Jake answers. “So sir, let’s say that you will lose all your money. Your business will fail, and your dreams will be crushed. What then? Wouldn’t it mean you are far from the best version of yourself?” Sullie asks looking in his rearview mirror.
Why We Are Never Satisfied
“I would be devastated.” The young entrepreneur answers. “I wouldn’t know what to do with my life. Everything that brings it meaning would be gone. I would feel like a failure. But sir what would you do if you lost all your money and your ability to drive a taxicab?” Jake returns the questions to Sullie.
“Well sir, losing the money would be a pain in the ass.” He says as he laughs like a crazy man. “But you see, it’s just money. Losing my job as a taxi driver would be a shame. But neither one of these things defines me. My life would still have meaning, I would still see myself as the best version of who I could possibly be. And I would most certainly not see myself as a failure. I would just go on finding another job. Something I like. Whether it pays well or not.” Sullie looks at Jake and sees the confusion on his face.
“Sir let me explain something to you. I’ve had many young men and women like you in this very cab. I’ve asked all of them what their job is, and almost all of them told me that they weren’t satisfied yet. Yet all of them had all they ever needed. Money, a job they liked, family, good health, and all the basics for a good life. But how come none of them were satisfied?” Sullie asked. “I don’t know?” Jake answers.
“They were all concerned with this thing you call ‘becoming the best version of yourself’. Never really seeing the blessings they had received, or the beautiful young person they already were. All of them were so concerned with their futures that they forgot to enjoy the present moment. Their life as it is in this very moment. It’s these conversations with strangers that make me love being a cab driver. I know I could if I wanted to, achieve big things. But why should I? If I am perfectly fine helping kind sirs as you get to their jobs.” Sullie looks at Jake waiting for an answer. Jake looks outside, he is clearly thinking about what Sullie is telling him.
“So…” Jake says after a brief moment. “What would you say is the best version of yourself? Considering that you think there’s nothing we should necessarily achieve.” Jake asks.
The best version of you is just who you are right now. Not concerned with your future self, or past self. But fully embracing who you are now.
We Are Already Our Best Version
“Sir, I love that you are asking this. But we already are our best selves. At this very moment, you couldn’t be any better than you are right now. You see this entire belief of thinking that one day we will be the best version of ourselves is nonsense. It would mean that we would have to act a specific way, live according to specific rules and guidelines in order to be the best version of ourselves. Completely neglecting the fact that we were born perfect. The best version of you, sir, is just who you are right now. Not concerned with his future self, or past self. But fully embracing who he is right now. That version of you will always be joyful, loving, and peaceful. For it has nothing to strive for, nothing to change, nothing to do. You can just be you, meaning that you don’t have to figure out who you are, but to just live your life.”
“To just live my life…” The young entrepreneur mumbles.
“To just live your life, sir. It’s that simple.” Sullie repeats. “Many of the people I spoke to in this cab had many ideas, perspectives, and concepts about what their best life would be. What their dream life would look like, and who the best version of themselves was. Which made all of them dissatisfied with their lives. Because they knew they had to do things to get to that specific place in life. Only then they would fully enjoy life. But the thing is sir, the more we chase that future ideal, the more things we learn that will change it. Making it move away from us the more we try to reach it. But if you could just live your life sir, you would see that you are already the best version of who you are. Now that’s not some mystical, or cheesy line. Sir, I hope you get this. But the best version of who you are has nothing to do with specific ideas, ideologies, or concepts. The best version of you is who you are right now, it doesn’t require effort to be that. It only requires you to live your life as it is. To have no expectations of what it should be or attachments to what it was. To live a free and open life.” Sullie slowly breaks and pulls the car to the side of the road. He turns around, with his arm across the passenger seat. “We are here sir, that’s all that matters. Because here we can experience joy, love, and peace and what more can we ask for right?” Sullie said and chuckled.
The more we chase that future ideal, the more things we learn that will change it. Making it move away from us the more we try to reach it.
Like the Rainbow That Has No End nor Beginning
Jake couldn’t stop thinking about what the taxi driver told him that morning. His entire idea of becoming the best version of himself had been flipped around. He didn’t expect this.
A few months went by, and the entrepreneur couldn’t stop seeing the uselessness of striving for all these big goals. He noticed that he didn’t like the job he had, he just wanted to achieve the goals. After a few weeks of misery, he decided to sell his company, leaving enough money in the bank for him to become a baker. Something he had adored ever since he was a little child, but neglected because he didn’t believe this was the best version of himself. But he now understood that he already has what he was looking for. That he was the best version of himself.
And so the story ends, of how many people start to realize that this idea of success, of achievements, and striving will never satisfy you in life. The idea that one day we will be the best version of ourselves is like trying to find the end of a rainbow, we can chase it but we will never find it. Because the rainbow doesn’t have an end or a beginning, it can only be viewed completely, as a whole at that moment in time and space. There is only one thing to do, and that is to embrace the beautiful colors of the rainbow.
And so can you never see the end and beginning of who you could become. You can only see who you are right now completely, as a marvelous human being at this moment in time and space. There is nothing to change or chase after. There is just the beauty of this very moment, of the human that you are. And only one thing you can do to be the best version of yourself. To embrace the beauty of you at this moment in time and space. And so the chapter of becoming ends, and the chapter of being begins. Because today you live, let’s fall in love with life as it is.