I really like your blog but it always makes me wonder what your life is like compared to mine. Do you still have goals? Are you still learning new things or is all of that over for you?
I am incredibly ordinary. So don’t waste your life thinking comparisons into existence. Can you imagine two cave men sitting together, pre-language? They couldn’t do any such wondering because they wouldn’t have the ability to have that conversation with themselves because they didn’t have any words. That’s a good way to seeing Be-ing. It’s when we’re quiet inside. It’s when we’re not judging or striving or wanting. The emptiness that’s left is what contains the universe.
You don’t collect facts and then process it into a coherent version of the universe. Your consciousness is like a vase. And the most important part of the vase is the empty part inside. So don’t fill it with words. Let it flood itself by being immersed in the universe. Don’t process events—that requires and demands a you. But if you simply are, if you simply be, only then can the world be known to you. So don’t try to become like me, don’t try to be any specific way, just let yourself relax into the quiet and the real you will melt into your surroundings in a very wonderful and special way. That’s why you like dramatic sunsets. They shut you up inside. The sunset isn’t amazing because it’s an amazing sunset, the sunset’s amazing because you’re quiet and you can actually experience it.
To answer your question more specifically, yes I love to learn more than almost any other activity. But I don’t do it to expand or improve or impress. I do it because it’s fun for me. Some people love sports, some love to dance, some value stamp collecting or riding horses, and I like to learn. I literally love the feeling of new synaptic connections forming. I am addicted to the chemistry for learning in much the way an alcoholic or drug addict is addicted to a substance, or in the same way an angry or sad person is addicted to their favourite neurochemicals. I am intoxicated by learning and so I’m always looking for new information to intake. Likewise a sad person is always scanning the world for misfortune to focus on, and an angry person is looking for lost opportunities to bitch about. You get what you ask for—I just happen to ask for novelty. Once I know something it seems less interesting to me. I much prefer the unknown to the known.
As for goals—I do have them, although I’m not attached to them as outcomes. They’re the direction I’m heading, but like someone who’s driving from LA to New York, I’m mostly interested in looking at the stuff in between. If you were to describe me in a word, fascinated might be a good choice. The universe just never ceases to amaze me. We’re all in a big giant play and the world is our stage and our characters fall in love and get into fights, and thrill ourselves and anger ourselves and we are alive.
That is what living is: to feel. And I feel the world very deeply. Including sadness and concern and frustration. The difference is that I don’t fight those feelings. I welcome them as I would in any play I went to see. I wouldn’t stand up in the middle of a performance and say to the character, “Hey there, don’t feel blue fellow. Things are gonna turn around in the second act, you’ll see!” Because I understand that if I let it happen then the writer and actors portraying sadness aren’t necessarily giving me a bad feeling, it’s just a specific feeling. I spend time with it and come to know it. It is an aspect of me and it feels a particular way. Remember: tickling can feel both good and bad. How we feel about something is how it is to us. So it’s good to get comfortable with all feelings.
Yes, get comfortable with suffering. You’d be surprised at how little you suffer when you’re actually open to suffering. Stuff just moves through you very nicely. Grumpiness is like a rain, but after you eat a cookie and raise your blood sugar and feel better, it feels that much better because of the juxtaposition to the rain. So I don’t mind the grumpy part because I know it sets up the happiness. After a tough day, good days feel even better. It’s like watching your team lose for the entire game and then suddenly pull out a surprise victory in overtime. It’s that much better because you’d suffered first. None of this is rocket science. It’s super simple. Do things you like and live with the consequences. It’s easy.
If you can quiet your mind you won’t need to fill your life with music anymore. You’ll be able to sit for extended periods in silence. And that will have special beauty due to its juxtaposition to the usual impermeable soundscape. You’ll never feel lonely, but you’ll also be very present with anyone you do connect with. You’ll switch words around like they and you, and your words for time will start to wander. And you won’t fix it because you’re comfortable losing a vocabulary for time. Time feels like a jail. You won’t be interested in trapping things with any sort of value judgments like worth, and you won’t care about concepts like ownership or even time stamps like when. None of those things will be meaningful when you live with All.
By not recognizing time’s “passing” I am free, and that freedom is worth a lot to me. To me all people all things all places and all times are one thing with many faces, so it just seems silly to engage in any extended negative feelings. It’s like getting worked up in a dream. Who cares? The whole thing is taking place in your consciousness. Why break up an argument between two characters you are dreaming into existence?
Your life is what’s taking place in your consciousness. By living there and being aware you get to have all sorts of novel experiences. You’ll be free from hate. And loving everyone is easy and awesome. You see good things happen to people that hate you and you think, “Hey, good for them!” and you totally mean it. Unless an acute shortage of food and/or sleep is involved, there’s not really any dark thoughts to think of after you go quiet inside. And even if food exhaustion kicked in, I would still be aware enough to know that’s what it was and that I shouldn’t take any of my reactions seriously.
Because I move moment to moment and don’t create narrative opinions about what I witness outside of me, I don’t need to forgive people because moments after it’s happened I’m not even there because I’m experiencing something fascinating in the present moment. So it’s like I re-meet them the next time I see them. Gossip feels as crazy as it does meaningless, and as the Buddha says, “Being angry at someone is like throwing a hot coal—you are the one who gets burned.” I don’t entertain ugly thoughts for very selfish reasons. They don’t feel good to think.
You don’t want my life but you do want to live your own. You want to be the aspect of the universe that you create. So stop conforming and trying. Stop wanting to be in this or that group, or to be seen this or that way. Be yourself instead. You’re the only one that’s qualified and without you one of life’s jewels is missing. Now go enjoy yourself and your day. You were fine the moment you were born.
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.