In the last post I talked about stories. I ended it with a thought – what if I didn’t actually need a story in the first place..?
Prior to the holidays, I considered that in order to be (feel) successful, and in turn, be happy, I had to have clear meaningful goals, passion for the work I do, draw up 5/10/20 year plans and crush them.
When I could not find such a plan/passion/goal, I would get stuck and do nothing instead.
I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur – efficient, smart, creative – as that “story” always felt very appealing to me (so did one of a writer). But it never came to be – as I never found that perfect project – that only project I would be able to dedicate myself, as no other is worth my time.
There’s a lot to discuss in that last sentence. I always thought that my life was all about me – how I go through life, hardships and pleasures – the choices and decisions I make – the impact I have on the world. And I wanted to be significant, therefore, I had to do something exceptional, just like Jobs, Musk or other famous business people.
Each time I was motivated to try, I would daydream of how I would achieve that, make plans, but little progress. The way I thought about life did not motivate me into action, rather just into planning and fantasising. I would indeed feel good, walk a step forward, then crash two steps back.
During the holidays I explored Eastern philosophies (even rather esoteric ones) about life and happiness, through talks, books and documentaries. I explored their different way of thinking as the ego driven moneymaking Western lifestyle just didn’t work for me.
Yogananada, whose biography was given to people attending the funeral of Steve Jobs, was the exact type of guru that pushed me away. I can’t in good conscience push through all the obviously magical tricks (oh look, a medallion appears in her hands during meditation), neither did I find something I could relate to.
Ram Dass (real name Richard Alpert), however, was different. I watched his documentary, where he and his long time friend Timothy Leary, explored consciousness via, at first, heavy use of psychedelics.
During those trips both felt that there was some greater answer, greater understanding hidden behind the veil of normal life and thinking. While Timothy continued testing the limits through drugs, Richard knew that these trips, whether pleasant or nightmarish, were unsustainable.
They both claim to have felt the oneness with everything, the truth, whatever it was, yet it slips away soon after the drugs wore off.
So Richard instead decided, as is popular among Americans to this day, to go on a spiritual journey to India, to find his guru yadayada (a story we have all heard before). Although he talks about the mystical ways of his guru and how circumstantial and odd the situation they met was, unlike Yogananda, he never required me to believe in something magical, just in a blunt truth – one that’s just a tiny shift in thinking.
I don’t claim to be a specialist in his books, nor did I fully understand (grasp) the concepts he implied (I didn’t even finish the book that friend told me to read). Nor do I actually think its necessary to go super deep into it.
What appealed to me was the simplicity of it all.
Just be here now. Not I am here now. Just. be. here. now.
There’s several concepts here – there’s no I in being, there’s also no past/future, just now.
Both of these kept tripping me while I journeyed through life. I heavily relied on what I wanted and what story I had to have, both of these projected into the future, disregarding the present.
I’m not claiming that I was never present – I wholly remember the precious moments of being together with my friends, talking, laughing, spending time with my parents, just walking, running through forests, with sunlight beaming through the canopy.
Problem is, this never applied to my work life, not fully, at least. I do get into flow while I’m working on projects, yet I always found it difficult to begin and choose what to work on.
So, after I went through this change in mindset, removing the incessant nagging of “Is this my passion? Is this truly why I’m here on Earth for? Could I do something greater / bigger?”, I started to enjoy work a lot more. I stopped running away as much (not completely, certainly) instead choosing to be here now, solve problems, help and just do good work.
Or just write, like today, being in the moment and following this train of thought in my head.
Added benefit, I feel no reason to run away into fantasy and gaming, especially, as life’s pretty good right now. It’s just happening. I feel oneness with the world through simply doing the work, removing myself and my goals and aspirations away from the equation, working for the collective betterment rather than my wallets size.
While Ram Dass gave the initial impulse to be here now, there’s plenty of other great creators, who realised and explained the same (be it in different form). For example, one by Alan Watts interpreter and populariser of Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism for the Western audience.
I loved his thought experiment, described in the video below:
What I realised in my own search of meaning, is that simply put, be here now, enjoy the present. Do good and good work. Remove ego from the equation, the I, the me, the myself.
As Jim said in the video I linked in the stories post:
“Once you realise you’re complete, then this life and everything in it becomes a play of form. Something to toy with and play with, and make something good out of. ” – Jim Carrey
There is no reason to lose the present in order to have something in the future. We are complete as is.
That is not to say that we stop learning and growing or only waddle through life doing busywork instead of something great. By doing good work, each of us can change lives for the better. Whether for a small group people, a country or the whole civilisation – doing good work for the betterment of everyone is both worthwhile and attracts other people.
Elon Musk is a great example. He certainly could’ve given his ego a solid rubbing by naming cars, rockets or companies in his name (much like Tony Stark does, a comic book equivalent of Elon). Yet he didn’t. He named the companies/products as either puns or other people who inspired him.
And his goals are simple – we need sustainability as a species and to stop wrecking our planet (solar city and tesla) and if that fails – we need to become interplanetary (spacex). And these huge goals appeal to people, especially younger ones, for a reason – they are good goals. Huge and difficult ones. But necessary ones.
This way of thinking, dropping the ego and reliance on the future, might not appeal to everyone, some might even find this foreign as much as I had before.
I do not believe that immersing yourself fully into shamanism or deep meditations is necessary to gain benefit from this. Might even be detrimental, as in many cases, there has to be balance in things.
And I am certainly late to the proverbial party and have quite a few questions left to find out.
But as long as you at least think about this, even for a few minutes, I did good. Or something good happened.