I was watching Revenge briefly the other night. As I was watching, I wondered, why don’t I like this show more? Why am I not addicted to it like everyone else? Even Mum has seen more of it than me – “Darling, are you watching Revenge tonight?”*
No, I can’t be bothered. I can’t follow what’s happening, because what’s happening isn’t revenge. Why hasn’t she sorted those Hamptons socialites out Schwarzenegger-style, the way it was so convincingly promised in the opening trailer for season one? Instead, there’s parties, and art show fundraisers and, like, endless flashbacks. I know I’m lebanese, so my expectations for payback might be higher (and more immediate) than other people’s, but even so, where’s the revenge already? But let’s put that aside for the moment.
On a recent weekend, I met some girlfriends for brunch. One of them had just been to Melbourne to participate in School of Life, a series of seminars on philosophy and psychology. Interesting and far more self-aware than any activity I’ve ever participated in when visiting Melbourne (assuming I survive the plane ride without an anxiety attack, it’s straight to a cafe, then a bar).
“What did you learn?” I asked. I love learning new things (unless it’s related to IT, which is unfortunate, because that’s currently my bread and butter).
“We learned about mindfulness, and calm,” she said.
“I NEED THAT!” I like to think this came out, well, enthusiastically, but perhaps it was rather more desperate and uptight. So as not to terrify her, I lowered the decibel level and said, “And what else?”
“Well, we talked about setting goals, and how to reach them,” she said.
The whole table sighed.
“How do you meet goals?” I asked. This could be very helpful. I have a million goals. I want some insider knowledge.
She laughed. “I don’t know! I realised I didn’t have any. It was quite disappointing.”
I immediately subjected her to a series of interrogatory questions of the what do you like, what about this, what about that, don’t you LIKE COOKING??? variety. I have so many goals. Surely I could find the right goal for my friend. Everyone wants goals! Lots of them! Don’t they?
Then I realised: not having a goal and having too many goals comes to exactly the same thing. Exhaustion. And apathy. Too many decisions. Not achieving anything.
One of my other girlfriends told me, “Happiness is the achievement of small goals, Jessica.” Incidentally, this is why she defends her obsession with excel spreadsheets and lists. She also thinks having fewer goals and of a smaller scope, means you’re more likely to succeed and not end up disappointed.
I love having goals. I love achieving them even more. What other good reason is there to run a half marathon or get a mortgage? Doing these things are boring, horrible, leech money from you and you end up looking far worse than when you began (both activities = looking haggard). I do them because I can declare it a goal and mark it as achieved.
The problem is, achieving goals doesn’t stop me from making more goals. One goal multiplies into three, which multiplies into 23, which starts to look like Sylvia Plath’s fig tree and choosing which one to chase is impossible. And, FYI: if your thoughts start to resemble Sylvia Plath’s, you’re probably in more trouble than you realise.
I might as well not have a goal at all. And so, my friend shouldn’t feel so bad about not choosing one yet.
Which brings me back to Revenge. I can’t watch this show, because Girlfriend had one goal – to wipe out that wretched Grayson family. It was a good goal. Focused. Achievable. Limited in scope. No bells and whistles. And then all of a sudden, she’s getting engaged, getting un-engaged, looking for her mum (I thought it was about her Dad?), learning the art of Batman-Neeson style oriental warfare, or something, and it all just makes me tired. Just get your revenge already, darl. Then, I promise, you’ll feel the satisfying, warm glow of achievement. For about five minutes.
*Admittedly, Mum also got sick of Revenge (she too loves having lists to tick off so that’s probably no coincidence). So now neither of us know what’s happening and I have to try watching The Wire again. Apparently being retired means you’re “too busy” to watch TV. I’m not falling for that one.