I was thinking of how to write this while pondering over the conversations and experiences for the past week, when this brainpicking article came up on my social media feed. The article, nor the quotes do not belong to me. Opinions are my own.
I have come to the conclusion that we are all drowning in our own little hellish whirlpools of insecurity and misery.
It doesn’t seem like much of a conclusion, but it has been one that I’ve not been able to get my head around for a while, and now, I think I understand it a little better. I think I have some kind of context to why this is happening, and why we are trapped in this “age of insecurity” as Alan Watts so eloquently describes it.
We are all pretty miserable, aren’t we?
Miserable because we’re running some kind of race against time/others/time/others/others/time to gain some measure of this all-elusive success/wealth/love/havewhatyou/yourdeepestdesire etc. Miserable because we’ve gotten so damn caught up in the running, that we’ve all kind of forgotten about the living. Miserable because we are trying to prove something about ourselves to someone out there (I’m still not quite sure who this “someone” is, educate me if you can) about how “good” we are, how “worthwhile” we are, how “productive” we are, how “powerful” we are, yada yada yada, blah blah blah.
I’ve had the utmost privilege to encounter many such people throughout my life. I’ve also had the utmost privilege to be sucked into this whirlpool of wants and desires and always feeling “not quite good enough” or “never quite there yet” more often than I would like.
I’m not entirely all too sure if this will change anytime soon.
Regardless, it has taught me some things; mostly, about context.
The context is this: deep seated insecurity breeds some form of unhappiness that manifests in this modern day and age faster than you can say “ebola”. People become grumpy; jealousy becomes the new black; person a bitches about person b to person c and person d feels the negative externalities of it all; people produce and consume at a rate that is in no way proportionate to the happiness/joy that they could get out of enjoying what they produce and consume. Misery becomes the normcore, the default emotion, and the basis to which the rest of life sort of happens. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is.
And I suppose the penultimate reason for the above is that we forget the utter temporal nature of life.
Alan Watts explains this much more lucidly than I ever can in the article linked above, but in simple lay-man terms, I guess what he is trying to say is: this universe is bigger than you and I, the I is mostly a myth, and more importantly, the I isn’t going to be around for too long a time anyway, so why don’t you/I just let the fuck go of things? Enjoy the present, cos that’s the only certainty we have, mate. Let go of all the worries that things are not going to last because….the truth is, they aren’t.
“To understand this is to realize that life is entirely momentary, that there is neither permanence nor security, and that there is no “I” which can be protected.”
Amen. Amen. Amen.
It doesn’t mean all of life is meaningless. On the contrary, this just increases the value of every single thing that we do; makes every single encounter and relationship that much more precious; teaches us that if we’re going to laugh, scream, cry, get angry, fall in love, make love, we should do everything with our whole hearts and nothing less, because right here and right now, that is the only certainty we have.
“To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t be that person who is ‘taut as a drum and as purple as a beet’. #notetoself