Let’s backtrack and look back at the example of your “skill set”. If you are a little kid and had big hands and were lucky, maybe you built the best “sandpile” at the beach amongst some friends. You remember, those mini volcanoes, basically mounds of dirt. Then, after some time, a wave bigger than the rest comes in and washes your sand mound down. Do you grieve? Of course not… Even if you were obsessed with sand mounds or sand castles, the sudden disappearance of your work did not bother you a bit.
The reason is because there was relatively little effort placed in your construction of the project. The misery is proportional to the efforts. As you grow within society’s web, you are putting increasing efforts and enormous time commitments to different endeavors. As you get more skill, you get proportionally more conceited and prideful. And this puts you in a precarious spot. Since there is really no upper limit on most of the competitions that society creates, there is no end to this game that you are playing. You will either lose early on and thus be eliminated early, or you will play and compete for a long time and then eventually lose in a bigger stadium, where the pain will be at its worst.
Since your efforts have been increasing as time went on, when you do encounter failure, your ego was at its highest point…right before the fall. And the pain will be equal to how big your ego got at its zenith. Take for example the sprinter. You learn that in grade school you are pretty good. Then you go on daily lessons with a coach for months, then years, all the way through high school. You then compete at the state level. After endless tryouts and endless efforts, you finally meet someone faster. There is always someone faster… As you won meet after meet before, your ego grew bigger and bigger. Your expectations and views about yourself grew as you felt more and more important and felt nobody could stop you or catch you.
But there is always someone faster… and better. Thus we can see that the process of building and showcasing a skill that society deems important has woven within it the pain and suffering of inevitable failure.
In the previous example, you may win state championships as in the case of the sprinter. Maybe then you can go to the Olympics. But expectations rise as does your ego. You fancy yourself now the best in the world. In the best case scenario, let’s say you win the gold medal. Is that enough now? The answer is no. Nobody can stop their ego from seeking. They persist and in this case would try to get the gold medal in the 200 meter, the 400 meter, the relay, and so on.
And what about the aftermath, even if all the goals were reached? All too often we hear of Olympic medallists who fell apart after the “action” was over. Many are asked after the Olympics, “What’s next for your next Olympics in four years? (even as they have just come off the podium). For society, there is no end to the push for excellence. There is no ultimate satisfaction for it. Society is like a hungry pig that never gets full. Society is like a poison, as it hurts everybody, even if it doesn’t mean to. It is often poisonous to your mind and to your very existence. Society tells you to be ambitious, to be anyone except yourself. Society tells you to work hard for money and pay a lot of taxes to the government, work harder and harder to make more and more money for big corporations. Society wants you to conform, it does not want you to be independent of it, after all, then how will society build its bridges, the houses, maintain the utilities?