If you feel hurried, it’s an illusion. No one is hurrying you. Not having enough time is an fallacy, an impossibility, and the unpleasant feeling it engenders is simple unfocused anxiety. You may well be worried about a real dilemma, and that concern manifests itself as worry about not having enough time.
Other feelings that fall into that category and arise from that same mechanism are free-floating guilt, concern that you’re a loser and nobody likes you (and never will) and the certainty that you are doomed. Because you’re a loser you’re doomed to a life of failure. Everything you try will ultimately come to nothing. You’ll be found out.
So why even bother to try? Spare yourself the effort and resultant humiliation. Play games on your phone. Shop for things you don’t need. Whatever comes of those activities are entirely predictable and thus, comforting.
If you don’t know why you’re still alive, maybe there’s been a mistake. Maybe you’re not supposed to be here any longer. You’ve overstayed your welcome. You’ve passed your shelf life but nobody told you, and that’s why nothing much seems to be coming your way any more.
What to do? How can you determine for certain if this is the case?
Try stepping outside your comfort zone and see what happens. Magnanimously and gracefully bow, thanking the audience for its attention, then slip behind the curtain and into the wings. If there is no thunderous demand for an encore, then you were right, they’ve seen enough. Cultivate your newfound retirement. Resist all obligations and demands on your time. You have no more time, at least none that’s assured.
This is indeed the last act, the final curtain.
Leave them wanting more.
Don’t worry, most things are out of your control. You were never in the driver’s seat. None of this is your fault, nor do you have the ability to come up with a solution to the many problems that surround us all. You can’t fix what you didn’t cause.
You’re simply a passenger on this voyage. Did anybody ask you if you wanted to be born? Did they determine your preferences regarding national identity, language, level of income, gender, race? No, they did not. You showed up uninvited and made the best of it, sliding in through the servant’s entrance if the door was unguarded. Trying your best to fit in, you’ve not succeeded in every possible way, but you’ve not done too badly. You’re not incarcerated, at least not yet.
Eventually, if you keep your options open and pay attention, good luck will send something your way that you can seize upon. Hopefully, you’ll be able to carve out a niche for yourself doing something that interests you and that you do well. You will have found a way to fit in.
You might have to wait a while, though. There will be false starts. Temporary disappointments. The trick is not to give up. Bounce, don’t break.
It might be impossible to determine how many major forces are out there. Forces for good that insure things will get better often seem overwhelmed by negative forces that are hell-bent on destruction. Of course, our attitude matters a great deal, but probably not as much as these powerful forces that are at work even when we’re not aware of them.
They never sleep, never get bored, and never take a vacation.
We, on the other hand, are fickle attendants at the cosmic opera. One moment we might be all excited about global warming, the next we are lusting after a new electronic gadget. We find it hard to steer a steady course. It’s good that’s not our job. Whose job it is is open to debate, but almost everyone feels that the Captain is asleep at the wheel.
As the passengers on the Titanic found out the hard way, arranging the deck chairs doesn’t mean much in the long run if we’re all going to end up on the bottom sooner or later. An engraved invitation to dine at the Captain’s table is just a piece of paper if the Captain has already abandoned ship.
They’re sneaking us diet drinks to try to poison us. If you don’t expressly ask for a sugar soda, they’ll substitute an aspertame-laced one. This chemical, formerly called “nutra sweet” is now called “natural sweetener,” and was developed by the Nazi’s as a nerve gas agent. When cyclamates, the artificial sweetener of choice in the 1970’s, were found to cause cancer, Donald Rumsfeld, who was working for the Ford Administration, got aspertame approved, even though it had already been considered and rejected by the FDA. What a team player he was. He helped Cheney with our plan to invade the Middle East.
It’s hard not to think of our own government as the enemy. Certainly, many reasonable and awake people all over the world already consider it that. By the time their crimes are finally revealed, they will be dead, and their families will have stashed large amounts of cash abroad. “It’s good to be king. It’s good to be rich.”
Not so good for the rest of us. But this is just one step on the gradual enslavement of the public and the disintegration of our democracy.
The CIA took over in the 1960’s and killed the Kennedy’s. Forty years later, Mossad orchestrated the demolition of the World Trade Center. Twenty years after that, Donald Trump is out President. The shit keeps hitting the fan, but the fan blades keep spinning faster and faster and nobody has any idea of how to stop this madness.
Or if they do, they’re keeping it to themselves because you can fall out of a window, or have a fatal accident, or shoot yourself a couple of times in the back of the head while sitting on a park bench.
You might as well do what you really want to do during your time on the planet, because you probably won’t be very good at doing something somebody else wants you to do. If you follow that latter path, you’ll work begrudgingly and at half steam.
Most people are afraid to admit to themselves what they really enjoy and desire, for fear of not being able to enjoy that freedom. So they consign themselves to a life of servitude, hoping that way lies virtue. It doesn’t.
Today I’m riding my motorcycle through this hills around Chiang Mai, Thailand, photographing plants and scenic vistas. There’s no money in it, it doesn’t lead to something bigger or more lucrative, but I enjoy it. Now I’m having breakfast in a delightful little air-conditioned cafe at the foot of the hills. Later today I’ll have a massage, then tutor a student in English for a couple of hours. That’s my day.
And it’s OK by me that’s all it contains. I will receive no important phone calls from powerful people who could further my “career” whatever that might be. The only invitation I might receive will be to tutor more Chinese students who have come with their families to Thailand in a search for opportunity and relative freedom.
One of my students is a twelve year-old girl who practices the piano five hours a day on weekends and three hours a day during the week. This is in addition to school and homework. I asked her if she enjoys the piano. She admitted that she would rather be a singer than a pianist, but that her mother disapproves of singing and wants her to study the piano. I suggested she might become a better wholehearted singer than a reluctant pianist, but she assured me her mother would not change her mind about this.
Those of us who not suffer from bone-crushing poverty are all much freer than we would care to admit, but it’s more convenient to imagine that we are constrained by others and forces beyond our control. If only we had more money or approval, we could finally do what we want and be truly happy. This is a lie we tell ourselves to excuse our cowardice.
Probably the greatest gift we can give others is not self-sacrifice, but to free ourselves from this habitual bondage of denying ourselves our true ambitions. A happy person living enthusiastically is an inspiration.
here is a link to a recording of the author reading this essay https://youtu.be/Z1IGUR5c6s4