Imagine you’re on a highway. Up ahead is a storm. It’s a big one. You want to get where you’re going, but should you turn around?
Before deciding what to do, you stop to enjoy the view. The air is earthy. Electrified. Colours vivid: dark green, dark blue, pink, distant purple.
Driving for hours in a time machine car has put you in a trance. The road ahead has taken you into the future and left the past in a rear-view mirror (see: Kevin Costner explain In a Perfect World).
The sky rumbles and ruminates upon your fate as you stand bewildered. A thundering song rocks your brain: “I was caught in the middle of a railroad track (thunder!). I looked round and I knew there was no turning back (thunder!)” (“Thunderstruck,” AC/DC).
Between waking and sleeping and thinking and doing you breathe deeply. The storm edges closer but there is no hurry, no tension, no mental chatter. You are as loose as a wet noodle as you listen to sound come and go. Your face is stupidly slack. Vision widens. Inside the car the Clash asks your question, “Should I stay or should I go?”
Everything is just so: earth, sky, air, body. The voice within goes quiet when you touch reality. Judgement: suspended! Impatience: gone! A childlike freedom hits. You’re like a bird perched on a branch giving way, but why worry?
“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” said Macbeth immersed in a future that didn’t exist. Life is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” but like a lot of people living fictional lives, he confused thinking with reality. That’s probably where the whole notion of a spirit within came from.
We trick ourselves into thinking there must be a watcher for something to be watched, that what happens now follows the past, but it’s the other way round: the past follows from what’s happening now.
It’s a head-game we play in our storied lives where actions have responses and character is revealed.
Even though we know actors are pretending in a show, we pretend with them. Management (MGMT) was correct, “We are fated to pretend” (“Time To Pretend“).
Most stories go want-obstacle-action-response (repeat) – outcome (when the want is gone or resources are depleted). That’s the beat of a hero’s journey. Behind it all there’s an underlying message or “big idea.”
What we want associates with what is lacking: a hungry person wants food, a thirsty person wants water, a prisoner wants freedom, a sick person wants health, a cheated person wants justice, a bored person wants excitement, a weak person wants power and so on ad infinitum.
Wanting never ends.
A person who has everything probably wants more. It’s hard to imagine that you can contemplate your way into a mental state aligned with nature and make wanting and getting one and the same.
If asked, “What do you want?” what would you say? Is it food, shelter, money, sex, health, longevity, love, happiness, freedom? contentment, excitement, enlightenment… a stupendous high? What?
All of the above?
While you might feel stressed and worthless as you try to achieve, if you imagine achieving whatever it is, there could be a point afterwards when the achievement isn’t that important. When that happens, you realize that you’re the same person you’ve always been.
Within the life you lead, you will be about as happy as you choose to be. No matter how fantastic the achievement, eventually it will pass and become old news. Look at how research into lottery winners shows they’re not much happier than those who didn’t win (source).
Of the 108 billion people who have lived and the 7.5 billion swarming today (according to the World population Clock), there are just as many people with just as many problems and wants as ever. At the end of the last day without understanding, a billionaire and pauper will tremble naked and alone under their clothes.
In a world where automation replaces people, in the not too distant future half the people will need something to do. That’s when a philosophy of enjoyment will be critical.
Our storied brains help us enjoy despite self-destruction as a species. And yet, if you want to get everything you want, the answer isn’t in satisfaction of urges.
It’s the opposite.
Like Jerry Seinfeld said to George Castanza, “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.” “Yes!” says George. “I will do the opposite!” (see: George does the opposite).
Imagine looking at yourself from ten feet above. Feel aware of yourself in all that you see. Breathe consciously. When you’re done reading, don’t do anything. Just pause. Look around. See yourself seeing. This is it. There isn’t any more. Your heart is beating. Love what you see. It’s a perfect world. Sense everything in its entirety and flow with what is. Feel purely natural like a planet going around the sun without any sort of control, force, or attempt to revolve.
All insides have outsides. Yours doesn’t end with the skin. Hear Bert’s “African Beat” and know the world is your body! Engage in spontaneous effortless movement like a stream and what you want and get are made one and the same.
Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy.