You say that we shouldn’t want anything but then what would motivate me to do anything? Why would I go to work if I didn’t want things? How exactly am I supposed to put together the life I want if I don’t go out and get those things? I want to be as spiritually healthy as the next person but what’s the point if I have to live a life that’s ugly and cheap and unsatisfying? Can’t I have my cake and eat it too?
You sound like the daughter of a Tiger Mom. And if turns out you actually are—which is pretty likely—then take comfort in knowing that your journey is a common one. There is a well-worn path so you don’t have to feel like you have to accomplish some amazing spiritual feat to understand things in a profound way. You just have to take one step at a time. As you climb the hill of understanding you will gain perspective that will cause many previously mysterious things to suddenly make perfect sense.
I love your question so much I want to tackle each part of it separately. Let’s start with “Why would I go to work if I didn’t want things?” Yeah, why do you go to work? Have you ever questioned that? Why do you need a job to exist? Why do you need to work for someone? Think about it. That’s a relatively new idea. That got invented because we envied kings and queens and we wanted stuff like they had. And so a whole system got built up around our egotistical need to try and elevate ourselves by reflecting and collecting our society’s status symbols. And so you feel like your life is building to a point where you can anoint yourself as successful, but I’m telling you you were born successful but you have been convinced to tell yourself a word-based story about how you need to earn your value.
Do you think a famous, talented architect builds a gorgeous house as a way of anointing himself as successful? Do you think a real painter paints to make you like it? Do you think a songwriter is trying to sell songs, or are they trying to tell a sort of truth? True creation is an authentic act. It does not seek to impress or further the agenda of its creator. It exists naturally, without external motivation. It is manifestation, not request. It is the releasing of creativity rather than the ownership of beauty.
If you want a truly enviable life then live an authentic one. Don’t go to stores and collect all the things you’ve been told to collect by music, and TV and the web and your friends and everyone except you (yes I know you have a story you tell yourself where it really is you!). Be original by being yourself. Move in directions not because they reflect well on you, move in directions that naturally inspire you. Don’t collect things, experience things. Because you can tell yourself a story about your impressive life, or you can go out and actually live a deep and profound one. But you can’t do both.
So think about where you’re investing your psychological energy. Because it just may be that there are some common myths that you may have unwittingly bought into. Free yourself from those and rather than becoming someone impressive know that you already are someone impressive.
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.