A friend of mine’s cousin is an example of an unaware life. He’s a very nice guy but he’s not paying much attention to the feedback his life is giving him. This is primarily because his father always pitted him against his brother in an effort to “toughen them up,” and “get them ready for the dog-eat-dog world of business.”
I’m not sure if it got them ready for business, but it got them to think that business success (i.e. status, pay and perks) was what they should dedicate their lives to. Like all of us their egos were prepared to do unhealthy things to satisfy a primary caregiver. And all of those things were done in the vain hope of securing a lifelong sense of belonging.
What’s interesting is that the entire reason I like my friend’s cousin is because he’s so good at appreciating simple things. He loves to rough it, so he has a tiny rustic cabin with a pump for water and an outhouse. You can wear your shoes in the house and the whole thing smells like pine. It’s got a beautiful view out over a lake. He can just sit there with a beer in a lawn chair and sound spiritual as he thanks the universe for delivering him such a magnificent experience. Oh, and I should mention, this cabin is an eight hour drive from his house.
Because of his entirely pointless race with his brother (that only exists in their heads), he will drive eight hours back to the city to work a job he openly hates, all to make enough money to support his massive home, luxury cars and a really gorgeous boat. From the outside he looks like he’s got it made but he’s heavily in debt for all of that luxury. It all comes at a price, plus it all needs care, maintenance, insurance etc. etc. It’s all so stressful he just can’t wait for the weekend to hit so he can race that eight hours back to that crappy little cabin.
Okay, now let’s look at this for a second. We have a guy who loves his cabin. He loves fetching water, he loves having no toilet to clean. He can put his feet on the furniture, his dog can sit on the sofa with him and he even has an old TV that gets turned on to watch the odd sports event. But for the most part he just putters around building things for other residents. He works for free.
In town he feels tense and frustrated, like he’s a slave to debt; all so he can own a place that has guest-towels he can’t use and chairs he can’t put his feet on. It has lawns to mow, roofs to repair, he has to take his shoes off at the door and he’s making huge payments on it. At the lake he feels relaxed, energized, he works without being asked to, he has very few chores or responsibilities, and it costs him almost nothing. The real question is, why is he surrendering his life to a competition that exists only in his head?
If you were raised in a first-world culture then you too are affected with this status disease. But your life is not made up of the experiences other people have by watching the results of your labour. Your life is your labour. So make it a labour of love.
We should all look at your own lives; see what it tells us about what we should be investing our time and energy in. The sooner we do that the sooner we start living the life that’s actually ours.
Let’s not waste our lives collecting things. Our lives are made of moments, so we should focus instead on what those contain. Use this, to help enjoy your day.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.