I have been described from time to time as “driven.” As an artist, this is generally a positive thing. A driven artist is focused, is not easily distracted, is committed – all things necessary to do what you want to do. But a driven person is always driving, and if you are driving you are not resting. It seems axiomatic that if you want to “get somewhere” then you must go, and all the better this constant driving if you want to get wherever you are going quickly.
Except that you can never be anywhere but where you are. I would rather be patient than driven, and I say this as someone who has in fact been quite driven all his life, often at the expense of patience. I will be patient when I get where I need to go, I believed, in the meantime, the accelerator is the one on the right.
What a misleading idea, that one is driven to get somewhere. We can call where we’re driving whatever we want, but it is always the same destination: certainty. Here in this moment, we know absolutely nothing but what is in this moment, while ahead of us lies some uncertain future. If I could only reach some penthouse of goals, where all the larders are full, all the pension plans stable, the children in college and careers, health care paid for, where I know what everyone will ever think of me . . .
Neither I nor anyone else has ever been racing to get anywhere, rather we are speeding to catch up with time, hoping that with enough hard work, by sacrificing enough vacation days, by getting up an hour earlier, we might snatch a glimpse of the always receding future and finally know enough of what’s to come to pull our foot from the gas and rest.