Thursday, July 31, 2008

Preparing to Live Syndrome

James Dolan, a Texas attorney, has coined a new affliction: Preparing to Live Syndrome. It won't be found in the DSM-IV, but it is likely something most of us can relate to. Dolan defines it like this:

"It is a common condition, causing great amounts of suffering, depression, anxiety and medication. I call it Preparing to Live Syndrome (PtLS).
The sufferer sees life as an endless chain of meaningless, two-dimensional experiences that lack passion, value or meaning but that he must tolerate, because those experiences lead to some future point when all will come together, and life will again take on sparkle and value. In the meantime, there is nothing the sufferer can do, and the solution always lies out of reach, in the future . . .

To assume that one doesn't have time to grasp the one moment truly in her possession is to fall prey to the fallacy that there are an endless stream of such moments going on and on into the future, only to be seized when the time is right. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course.

This assumption about the unbrokenness of our lives leads people into the PtLS trap, in which we trade what we truly have for what does not yet -- and may never -- exist. Then, living in barely registered pain, many search for relief in addiction, pay raises and promotions and all manner of frantic behavior

The article in its entirety is available at, and is worth the read. The PtLS trap has us running for ultima thule, and while we are striving for that mythical place, the real "sparkle" of life passes us by. The pace of life has nothing to do with PtLS, some careers require an incredible amount of working hours, and passion need not lack. The key is to have joy in the journey and satisfaction with the roles we play in the here and now. Dolan makes the point that our personal fulfillment directly correlates to the passion we feel for the work we do, and that is a truth worth savoring.

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