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Joy of Goals

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Brandon Stover headshot


Educator | Designer | Podcaster | Philosopher | Founder @ Plato University



September 9, 2022

Joy of Goals

We all have a choice for what we aim at, embedded in the games we wish to play. Every game comes with its own set of rules and goals to win the game. All smaller, finite games are embedded in one larger, more infinite game, where our goal is to continue to have the ability to play all games.

In this infinite game, let's call it life, there is no winner or loser. We all die in the end. The only goal is that you keep playing. Not just the You in this lifetime, but every You in every lifetime, whether your beliefs regard that as reincarnation, legacy, children, a collective oneness or source.

Consider this.

What happens when we reach a goal? We set another.

And, when we reach that goal? We set another.

And, when we reach that goal? We set another.

Then what we want is not the content of the goal, but the goal itself. All the joy of having a goal is found in the pursuit of that goal.

So why do we worry we are not reaching our goals fast enough?

The man that accomplishes 15 goals before death is no more happy than the man who spent his whole life pursuing one. And once you’re dead, the joy of the goal can no longer be felt anyways. Nor does the goal matter. You’re dead. You can no longer play the game.

The objective of the infinite game of life is not to reach a goal and stop, but to continue playing. There will always be another goal after this one. So why not enjoy the process of fulfilling the goal you have now? You already have what you really want: a goal. So cherish it. Be grateful for it. It means you’re still playing the game.

So, if you only need one goal to play the game, and that goal is your choice, then what shall you choose? Well, if you are going to put in work towards a goal for yourself, should it not be towards the best possible version of yourself that you can conceive? To become the most valuable player in the infinite game? To the point where others see your goal as naïve, unfathomable, too ambitious?

Why would some disregard this ambition? Either they don’t believe you will attain that goal because you have never shown evidence of your capability for reaching lofty goals or they fear their own ambition. Ambition requires you to examine yourself and say I'm not my fullest potential. I could be more. It's a declaration of what you are choosing to become. By making that choice you also close the door to other possibilities. But if you don't choose, you stay young, full of pure potential, immature and undeveloped.

Why do you fear sharing your ambition? - Well I might be ostracized from my peers.

But is that not the point? To develop beyond them? - Yes, but I don’t wish to alienate them.

Then share your ambition. As you become that in which you envision, bring them along with you. Show them the potential of what they could become, too.

In the end, the ultimate goal seems to be the continuation of humans to continue to play the infinite game. Nature would agree. The most valuable player will be one who plays finite games in such a way that they are in alignment with the infinite game of life. Easier said than done. The rules of the infinite game are always changing. The uncertainty can be too much to bear. Let us not forget the goal though. Remember what you’re aiming for and you will have all the certainty you need.

Podcast Episode

July 30, 2022

Marriage as a Social Contract

Marriage appears to be an agreement, a social contract, between two people to continue ongoing negotiations about how each person will show up to better themselves, each other, and the relationship. Each individual enters the agreement under the belief that this union is more beneficial to each individual’s life than what that individual could do on their own. As a social institution, marriage provides the motivation for ongoing negotiations between each individual. From an evolutionary perspective, marriage is a time tested strategy for successful conception and raising of children. In which case, marriage is of utility.

So why do we complicate marriage with love? You would not enter a business contract under the influence of cocaine or heroin, yet we enter the contract of marriage under the influence of love. Wouldn’t this contract be better conducted if we were in a rational state? Love may be the glue that keeps the contract intact, providing motivation to connect, to help the other person in their worst times, to sacrifice parts of you for them, and for agreeing to continue negotiations.

Maybe we have confused the type of love that is correct for marriage. The Greeks understood that we are capable of more than one form of love. We want to believe marriage is for Pragma, a mature enduring love, or even more, Agape, an unconditional love. Despite this romantic ideal, building long lasting love takes time and marriage, being a contract, is anything but unconditional. Maybe the form of love marriage is aiming for is Philia, a deep friendship and soul connection based on values. However, should the spiritual union of two people in love be tied to this social contract? Maybe there is another form of love. One based on conditions of mutual growth and utility. But that does not sound much like love at all.

Love in marriage may be a deep desire to want the very best circumstance for that other person, because you see the beauty of humanity in its unique manifestation in this other person. But what if that best thing is not you?

In the agreement of supporting the development of the other person, there may come a time when the development of each spouse would be better done in separation. In which case, if marriage is not to end in divorce, it would require more flexibility, allowing time for separation and then reconciliation of identities through ongoing negotiations of values. If marriage is a contract, why don’t you periodically negotiate terms as each person develops? Contracts have terms and dates. Surely, the contract does not serve in the same way forever.

As each person in the marriage changes, their type of love changes, and what compatibility was right for one time may not be right for another, calling for a new form of marriage. As there are different forms of love, there are different forms of marriage. Two people may form a bond strictly around companionship, devoid of passion or romance. People in a parenting marriage may commit to raising children together, agreeing to stay in the marriage for the duration of raising those children, yet spiritual or sexual connection may not be part of the package.

And what of monogamy? Is monogamy truly the best way to handle the goal of marriage? Of course, there are open marriages where both people consensually agree to see other people. Love is not finite. I can love more than one person and love each in a different way. Maybe, I have a social contract with one person, for financial or parenting reasons, and the erotic lover of another because it fits each person's circumstances better. It’s too much of a burden to place all my needs to be fulfilled by one other person. I don't hire one person to fill all roles in my company, so why expect that in my family?

I’m coming to the conclusion that love and spiritual union of two people should be separate from the social contract of marriage. The feeling of building a life with another should not be taken lightly. This spiritual union of two souls helping each other to grow should be respected and acknowledged, not in the form of a legal contract stating terms and dates, but a point of development where the true act of love would be to let that person go.

Podcast Episode