“Living it up” has become the leitmotif of modern man—a compulsive hyperactivity without any downtimes, no gap of unscheduled time, lest we end up alone with ourselves. The meaning doesn’t matter, so long as it’s intense. We feel that without constant activity, life would be fatally insipid. Friends of mine who lead cultural tours in Asia have told me how their clients can’t bear the least gap in their itinerary. “Is there really nothing scheduled between five and seven?” they ask anxiously. We are, it seems, afraid to turn our gaze in in upon ourselves. We are fully focused on the exterior world, as experienced through our five senses. It seems naive to believe that such a feverish search for intense experience can lead to a lasting enriched quality of life.
If we do take the time to explore our inner world, it’s in the form of daydreaming and imagination, dwelling on the past of fantasizing endlessly about the future. A genuine sense of fulfillment, associated with inner freedom, can also offer intensity to every living moment, but of an altogether different sort. It is a sparkling experience of inner well-being, in which the beauty of each thing shines through. It is knowing how to enjoy the present moment, the willingness to nurture altruism and serenity and bring the best part of ourselves to mature—transforming oneself to better transform the world.
Really to live requires a great deal of love, a great feeling for silence, a great simplicity with an abundance of experience; it requires a mind that is capable of thinking very clearly, that is not bound by prejudice or superstition, by hope or fear.
Ideals are a curse because they prevent you from thinking directly, simply and truly, when you are faced with facts. The ideal, the what should be, is an escape from what is. The what is is the fact that you are afraid—afraid of what your parents will say, of what people will think, afraid of society, afraid of disease, death; and if you face what is, look at it, go into it even though it brings you misery, and understand it, then you will find that your mind becomes extraordinarily simple, clear; and in that very clarity there is the cessation of fear.
The infinite possibilities each day holds should stagger the mind. The sheer number of experiences I could have is uncountable, breathtaking, and I'm sitting here refreshing my inbox. We live in trapped loops, reliving a few days over and over, and we envision only a handful of paths laid out ahead of us. We see the same things each day, we respond the same way, we think the same thoughts, each day a slight variation of the last, every moment smoothly following the the gentle curves of societal norms. we act like if we just get through today, tomorrow our dreams will come back to us.
And no, I don't have all the answers. I don't know how to jolly myself into seeing what each moment could become. But I do know one thing: the solution doesn't involve watering down my every little idea and creative impulse for the sake of some day easing my fit into a mold. It doesn't involve tempering my life to better fit someone's expectations. It doesn't involve constantly holding back for fear of shaking things up.
This is very important, so I want to say it as clearly as I can: Fuck. That. Shit.
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.