What motivates you?
That is such a profound question, one I have given many hours of deep thinking time over the last few weeks and months, mainly through an ongoing discussion on Trick Slattery’s site about the nature of free will.
He claims it is illusion, and I can see how, from the perspective he takes, it must seem to be such.
As someone who has been fascinated by the systems of life for well over 50 years, it appears very different to me. It seems to me that we have free will to the degree that we claim it; and of course reality to be commanded must first be obeyed – it has rules we cannot break without consequence.
I can see that we are so complex, that there are aspects of our own internal machinery that must be forever mysterious to us.
I see in myself a tendency to rationalise what I do, rather than to act rationally, and I accept that as a necessary part of living in the real world and responding to things in reasonable time frames – full rationality is far too slow for most real situations.
But that leads into a far deeper investigation of the many levels of valence and motivation within us, and the many levels of synergy, conflict, and arbitrage that happens between them.
I’m really not all that confident about exactly what motivates me in any particular context, and there are a few lead contenders that are usually well up there in contribution rankings:
a sense of justice (and injustice);
a desire to make a difference;
a delight in discovering new things;
a profound joy in building coherent understandings of complex issues;
an appreciation for the beauty and complexity present in natural systems;
a love of people, and their power to overcome adversity and maintain cooperation;
making things work – building machines and systems that work as I imagined they might;
explaining complex concepts to others in ways that work;
being responsible in ways that contribute to the ecological and social contexts I exist in – aiming to achieve universal abundance.
I can get joy from splitting a log for the fire (provided I don’t hit my thumb with the sledgehammer), or from watching birds, dolphins, whales, etc, or watching the water in a babbling brook.