In reading of late, I've been running into the concept of the 'seeker'. He keeps popping up, this chaser of things; always roving from one corner to the next, hunting for something that he can't seem to find - or at least something that seems to slip out of his fingers at the very last moment.
Never content with the status quo, this character is constantly struggling to find something more.
Though the details vary, it seems that one thread runs common among these people: they tenaciously and dogmatically reject the status quo - often at the expense of comfort, security, and the sybaritic pursuits of a life spent chipping away at a spot in the honeycomb. These characters choose instead to live outside the system or on its fringes, and subsist almost entirely on the surges of adrenaline that arise from the conviction that they, despite all evidence to the contrary, have rejected the rules and are playing the game differently.
I question this conviction however. Having lived in this manner for some time myself, I wonder if it is sustainable. In my experience, the status quo is a problematic phenomenon because it is forever shifting; the mind has a way of acclimatizing to any way of life, no matter how radical. Thus, the seeker moves ever towards some receding way of life or 'truth' that he cannot ever be satisfied with.
Indeed, it is possible that such endless 'seeking' is merely the apotheosis of the same cavernous desire for non-conformity that governs trend-driven fashion, "hip" counterculture, and drives the success of such culturally "dirty" establishments as the advertising industry; a corollary to which would be the idea that such 'rejects' and 'rebels' live in rebellion against the status quo simply because they their identity rides on such a projection.
I have sat in many a brightly-painted hostel dormitory and met multitudes of these free-spirits, some trumpetously self-congratulatory, others quietly intent on their departure from the collective pressure of the rat race. They all claim to be searching for something "better," but do they truly want to comprehend some truth that the rest of the rabble have missed in acceptance of a common lifestyle? Or do they search simply because no other characterization satisfies them? Evidence, I think, points to the latter. In the same way the successful wall-street capitalist strives to increase the capital of an already-successful business because it gives him purpose, the seeker strives to 'find' ever-elusive truths because it gives HIM purpose. The seeker needs these truths no more than the capitalist needs to grow his finances. But unlike the capitalist, the seeker cannot lose the truth once he has found it and reconciled it with his own existence. This might explain why he is constantly in pursuit, never quite satisfied with the answers he finds.
So maybe such self-characterization is a sickness or defect. But is the popular alternative not also damaged? Are not the mass of 'individuals' inhabiting this planet plagued by myopic senselessness - happily absent of critical thought and mindlessly addicted to consumption? This may be an assanine observation as I know little of the masses inhabiting this planet and even less of the validity of any lifestyle except the one I allow for myself, but it is not totally inaccurate. I have spent time in some of the world's most populous cities, and in trendy neighbourhoods everywhere the wealthy sip designer water while their waitresses shop desperately for last season's fashionable clothing at second-hand markets.
And that is where this rumination ends, for the ultimate goal of such questioning must be the acquisition of answers, and I see none in sight.