Your life is much like you being locked in a school, where the only way out is to die. So what are you going to do? You can’t avoid the death part. So what’s left? Are you going to sit in a desk and not move because you don’t know where you’re supposed to go, or what you’re supposed to do?
Are you going to spend all of your time pulling on the doors the entire time, hoping in vain that they’ll suddenly open and you’ll be able to see the workings of the world outside your school even though you know that’s not possible? Or are you going to accept that you’re in there for an unknown amount of time, and are you going to spend that time actually living or not?
TV shows that wrap up a mystery in 44 minutes have taught you to think that there are always answers and that you can have those answers in short order. But the universe is far too big a mystery for you to ever figure it out. So why do you waste time trying to wrap your head around something so enormous? Why not just live instead? The healthy people haven’t figured out all meaning. They’ve surrendered. They’ve given up trying to figure out where all the books come from. They just find a comfortable spot in the library and they settle in to enjoying the reading.
So many people I meet are trying to figure life out. I understand how they would be lead there by modern discourse, but do we really think there’s an answer to that? Do we really believe that there’s a God-knowledge? That we can know everything? That we can understand everything? That is not what Enlightenment is. We should easily be able to recognize the impossibility of that. What goes on outside the school is truly not our concern. It is beyond our capacity for individual understanding. And since there is no grading inside the school, that also means that there is nothing specific to achieve. So all that is left is surrender. Or put another way: freedom.
You have a gym, a library, science and art rooms—you have the freedom to fulfil every sort of interest. So don’t sit in wherever you started, worrying that you might pick the wrong room, or worried that you might not get a good-enough grade.
There is no grading in the school of life. You simply attend. You get to meet some schoolmates who float through your life-school, you grow through learning, you physically express yourself through sports and play, and maybe you even brighten things up with some art or music. But there’s no right or wrong thing to do. The school is just a school. There’s no way to win at it. It’s just a chance—an opportunity to Be.
People are looking for a path. But there is no path through the school of life. There is no right order to go through the rooms in. There is no way to win within the context of the school. There is only attendance. You simply have to be there. After that, you are a free soul.
What are you doing with your freedom? Really ask yourself how you’re spending it. Because it is limited. And I can assure you, when the Principal comes to tell you that you have to leave, you will suddenly want to visit every classmate, you will want to run and jump and play in the gym, you will want to read every book in the library, and you will want to fill every canvass in the art room with paint. So don’t delay doing those things. Because you’ll never get answers to the big questions anyway. The living of your life will be your only possible answer.
Don’t waste your life thinking there’s a right or wrong way to live. Just go meet your friends on the courts, play some games and have some fun. Because that’s how you succeed as a student of life.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.