“I loved the city when I was walking, but then you see people running and you put your Air Maxes on, too. You start running, you get thirsty, and then you start chasing. You might get what you want, but it’s a blur, because you can’t stop running. You forget what you were chasing in the first place and then you die. You can’t win; the idea of winning is faker than white meat at KFC. But how am I gonna survive if I’m not 1st in line on 1st Ave. at the 1st National Bank so I can fly 1st class?”
As children, we didn’t really want to get anything out of life other than to have fun. We want to smile, to dance, to run and to play. Somewhere along the way, we started to notice that other kids had newer toys and nicer clothes. So, we wanted what they wanted. We started to play this game of catch-up and we’ve been playing “keep up with the Joneses” ever since. But why? Why do we do that?
We rush through life, chasing after some proverbial carrot on a stick, thinking that it will make us feel happy and fulfilled. But once you grab one carrot, another one appears. Or you notice that your peers and colleagues have nicer carrots. So, you keep chasing. You keep running. You keep rushing through life with your eyes on the prize, increasingly unaware of anything that’s happening around you.
But what happens when you hit the pause button? What happens when you slow down that action, when you stop running and start walking? You start to live in the moment. You start to appreciate the here and now. Instead of everything racing past you in a blur, you start to notice the finer things in life. You start to recognize what really matters.
Far too often, we get caught up in our ambitions and our goals. We start to exist in a fictional future, one where we have all the things. Once I have this, I’ll be happy. Once I finish that, I’ll be happy. But as entrepreneur and self-described “human panda” Eddie Huang explains, that’s all “faker than white meat at KFC.”
The excerpt above is from his second book, Double Cup Love, a memoir of sorts where Eddie returns to China (as an American-born Taiwanese) to gain some perspective on who he really is. I’m in the process of reading the book right now and that passage really resonated with me. We’re running too much. We’re chasing too much. We keep reaching for number one, because where we’re at right now isn’t good enough anymore.
There is nothing wrong with pursuing the so-called American Dream. Eddie Huang did it and, by and large, he’s winning. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for you and your family. Just don’t forget to appreciate the present. Live life as it’s being lived and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you forget what you’re chasing in the first place, then why are you still running?
Image credit: Gary Stevens