I came across this when a friend posted it to Facebook. It grabbed me and SLAMMED me down hard. This video “Why Your Life Is Not A Journey” includes the editors favorite Alan Watts quotes – my new favorite being the bit about missing the point the whole way along (skip to 3:13). I’ve always felt as if I were doing something wrong or missing some essential truth.
Life is not a journey… and you were supposed to be dancing!
When Watts says “It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing, or dance” I feel ashamed of my own behavior. I feel ashamed and sorry for myself. For not laughing more. Or Dancing more (or at all). For not crying, or feeling more things more deeply.
The quote hit me somewhere very deeply. I am sure it’s because it’s true. I’ve taken life entirely too seriously – like an epic slog rather than the joyous, beautiful thing it was meant to be.
It’s nuts what BULLSHIT your brain tells you to get you to act or think something. My latest thing is worrying about money when I’m 90 – assuming I even make it that far. I ran some errands earlier to restock on allergy medicine and on the way, I listened to Seth Godin’s guest appearance on the Tim Ferris podcast. As usual, Seth nails point after point about branding, business education and life.
Your brain is lying. It always does that
One of the things Seth talks a lot about is why – knowing your purpose and understanding what it is you are contributing to the world. Wow, I have struggled with that forever! What am I here for? What’s my mission? What am I contributing to this world or am I just taking up space? Part of the answer for me is my family, being a great dad, husband, and son but what is my greater good exactly?
One might think that my ~10 years in the non-profit world would have led to some sense of purpose. But I was either too disconnected, too asleep or too numb to notice and that time has passed. I didn’t find myself or my purpose inside a non-profit which is too bad because there is so much good work to be done.
So after the past 2 years transformation, meditation, tai-chi and reflection I’m once again thinking about this question of purpose. Now that I’ve woken the hell up a bit, what’s next?
What’s the right path in life?
Can I find fulfillment and joy in simply being present and alive and taking things as they come? I feel anxious about that because I have so many professional ambitions – most of it related to money I’m sure. And titles and power.
And yet thankfully, something inside me is telling me to slow down and that the idea of finding fulfillment and joy in being present is the right answer. My ambition has led to hell. For me, it’s been a road paved with pain and suffering – and more importantly, a road I’ve already been down multiple times. Maybe I’ll actually ignore my damn dirty lying brain, get out of my head and into my heart this time.
Maybe this time, I’ll try something different. Maybe this time, I’ll actually ignore my damn dirty lying brain, get out of my head and into my heart. Wouldn’t that be a change!
Lying to yourself is nasty business. It’s one of those things that while you are doing it, you don’t know you are doing it. But you are. Then something happens and you recognize the lie. At first, you can’t believe that you have been lying to yourself. All that meditation! All those blog posts! A year of journaling. I just realized in a blaze of glory that I’m lying to myself.
All it took was a moment in time. I brief insight I had while reading a book. And there it was. I am lying to myself about just about everything. Lies. Damn Lies. Sort of like statistics. No, exactly like statistics.
Since I started this blog I’ve been doing things differently in my life. First and foremost, trying to wake the fuck up and stop living my life based on what I think I should be doing, and getting some clue about what it is that I truly want. I’ve read so many books and blog posts and talked to so many people about their own lives and tried to understand what waking up really looks like. I’ve watched movies, looking for clues and walked in nature, literally trying to get lost to try to find myself. I’m such an imposter it’s astounding.
I’ve asked myself questions about who I am. Who I want to be. What I want to be. And not for lack of trying, but I’ve made progress. Wait, is that the right turn of phrase? Anyway, As of right now, coach.me says I have meditated 369 times. I’ve journaled just about every day for 1.5 years. I’ve exercised. I’ve started drawing again. Recently started Tai chi. So yes, I have been doing things. And yet, still lying to myself all the while.
It’s all bullshit. It’s bullshit because at my core, I’ve discovered, errr, rediscovered something I’ve known all along. It’s hard to see the progress when the big insights you have are the ones you already know. It’s like I’m”The Incredible Man with No Memory.” My superpower is being able to ignore reality and live in the past and future, but never in the present moment. It’s remarkable. And it leads to lies. Lie after lie after lie. I’m lying to myself.
It’s because I feel so alone.
I can’t help it. I don’t know what to do about it. I sometimes wish I had drugs that would magically make me feel happy. Do those exist? Can I get some?
The crazy fucking bit about this is that I’m not alone. Hardly. I have so many people who love me. You know how I know this? Because one of the meditations I do is being grateful. I even blogged about it here. I know they love me and I am ever so grateful for them all. But it doesn’t matter because it’s bullshit because despite being grateful, I still end up feeling alone. And scared.
This blog post may invalidate every all the other blog posts on this site, or maybe it will prove that they are true. Either way, I call bullshit. I call bullshit on myself. I’m putting calamine lotion on 3rd-degree burns. I’m hiking Everest in shorts and flip flops. I’m a lying liar.
I’ve lied to myself for so long I can’t even remember when it started. I allowed my life to be dragged down the river. No oars. I’m just going wherever it takes me. And while that sounds awfully romantic and “presenty” (not a word), it’s bullshit. Like my lies. I have no control of myself. I’m out of control. I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to be doing, or who I’m supposed to be.
So what next?
How about I stop lying to myself.
It’s a great idea, right? Trouble is, I have no idea how to stop doing it. Also, I don’t even recognize when I’m doing it in the first place. So that may make it tricky as hell. But I am going to try. I’ve been trying something new in my morning pages – telling the truth. I know, novel right? But instead of just free associating what happened yesterday or writing about what TV show I watched or what thing I thought, I’ve started to actually be honest with myself.
A few days ago I wrote down the following gem in my journal… “Fuck I’m so unhappy.” Then I wrote about why I thought that was and it was all lies, but the effort was there at the start. So it’s something to build on I guess.
I feel so fucking goddamn guilty about feeling unhappy. I feel like I’m betraying everyone I love because they all think I’m so well-adjusted and happy. I’m super good at lying to other people too apparently. Either that or they see right through it and are all wondering when I’m going to crack. 50/50 I’m guessing.
I hate feeling guilty about not being happy. It’s a ton of pressure. Sometimes I just want to be able to be sad. Wow, re-reading all that makes it pretty clear that I should re-think the drugs thing. Yikes.
So let’s recap:
This blog is bullshit because I lie to myself. It stands to reason that most or all blog posts on this blog are also bullshit and full of lies.
My attempts to be honest with myself are headlines at best. Getting past the surface level of honest is proving difficult or impossible at this time. Please hang up and try again.
I probably should be on drugs of some sort. Either prescribed or recreational.
I don’t know exactly how to end this post. I wrote it because I had to get it off my chest – and to acknowledge that I’ve been lying to myself. And to you also of course. Once I hit publish I can either go back to lying or decide to stop. I desperately want to make the right choice here. And that’s not a lie.
Part of getting older now is this odd feeling of “Yep, I’ll never do that thing or this thing again, or ever for that matter.” Door feel like they are closing. And I guess that’s natural. At 46 as of this writing, I’m starting to feel scared that given the path I’m on right now, I’ll regret not doing certain things in my life. I’m not living life to it’s fullest.
When I think of having regrets like that, I say “Holy shit, I do not want to regret anything.” Given that there is still time on the clock, I don’t regret anything really. I own the choices I’ve made in my life and can live with my decisions and actions. It’s the stuff I’ve NOT done that is starting to scare me a bit.
I left home for college, got married, had kids. Lived on both coasts. Got jobs, quit jobs. Went on amazing vacations and more. All good decisions, all Carpe Diem. But it’s the things I haven’t done — the things that have truly scared me that worry me.
Like all of us, my journey has been an interesting one. But it’s not over yet. There is a lot more to do and to experience. As I’ve written on this blog, I’m experimenting and learning as fast as I can — or at least faster than I had been until somewhat recently! I do know that while the path I’m on today is better than it was a few years ago, it’s still not quite right.
But on deeper introspection over the past few days as I’ve been writing this post, I realized that this must be how life works. The figuring it out part is life – the really real actual journey. I feel like I have known this for a while but for some reason it is only now sinking in. If life were a movie (I know, it’s not!) then this would be the montage sequence where I struggle and try and fuck up and learn and grow and figure out which direction to head. My character “arc” would progress and I’d learn something new that would lead to growth and change. I feel as if I have managed to ignore a lot of the growth I should have had the past 20 years and now that I’m cognizant of it, I can pay attention to it and honor it.
So, what does it mean to live life to it’s fullest?
What I’m slowly realizing is that the destination is a by product of all that figuring stuff out — let’s call that part “Living life to it’s fullest.” It requires mindfulness and presence. Both things I struggle with. This is an entirely new way to look life for me and it’s a bit disorienting. But it is exciting and feels positive and good. I’m going with it. Because if I’m on my deathbed with regrets, that would be bad. I’d very much like to avoid that fate.
I read a lot about being grateful. But when it really comes down to it, how do you practice being grateful for what you have? Waking up grateful for being alive is a useful skill to help you keep perspective and to remind yourself of how lucky you are to be alive. It’s very easy to forget all the blessings in life if you aren’t paying attention. It’s incredible how much work it takes to pay attention isn’t it?
In any case, the art of being grateful is something I’ve been practicing the last few months. I don’t do it everyday in any formal practice. What usually happens if I’m honest is that I have a terrible day and end up in a terrible mood. Something in the back of my head clicks and remind myself to get grateful. If that doesn’t work, and I need a bigger dose of gratitude, I set my phone alarm for 5 minutes and get out a blank piece of paper or open a new Evernote file and spend the time writing down everything I’m grateful for in this life. I start with myself and go from there, outward as far as I can imagine until the timer rings.
According to my Evernote files, the last time I did this was January 2016. Names have been changed or deleted.
How To Practice Being Grateful For What You Have In Life. At least, here’s how I do it.
Let’s try this instead. I am so completely grateful for my health. Thank you GOD for me not being physically or mentally ill. Sound mind and body, here here.
I am grateful for my wife who appears to be sticking by me! I love her so much.
I am grateful for my eldest daughter – my nerdy, amazing, lovely, smart daughter.
I am grateful for my youngest daughter and her dancing, creativity, personality and insanity – she’s incredible and lovely and funny.
I’m grateful for my dog and his nuttiness. Thank god he didn’t run into the woods this am to get that deer. Yikes!
I’m grateful for my mom – she loves me and I love her.
I’m grateful for my brother who is a putz but is generous in spirit and a good soul.
I’m grateful for my sister whom I love and want nothing more than to find her true self.
I’m grateful for my friends – old and new – art, ralph, and potsie and the gang.
I’m grateful they made a new Star Wars movie. Yes I am.
I am grateful for every breath I take, every move I make. Also, for that song. LOL.
I’m grateful for living in America and for being born free.
I’m grateful for my dad, may he rest in peace. I miss him so much.
I am grateful for my G-Ma and Pa who loved me more than anyone has ever loved me, other than probably my own kids.
I’m grateful for the weather, it’s incredible out this winter. Wow. Gonna pay for that eventually.
I’m grateful for nature and it’s beauty, and for sunrises and sunsets. I’m grateful to be alive – and I’m grateful that every day I get another chance to figure it all out.
That’s it. What’s interesting is the note I left myself at the end of those bullets…
I feel a lot better. That always helps.
That’s how I practice being grateful for what I have. It definitely helps me and I think it might help you.