You don’t want your life to be boring but you do want it to have some dynamics. After all, how good would Game of Thrones be without clashing those glorious highs against a few thunderous lows. We love it on TV, why not in life?
The reason is because you don’t see your life as a performance. You see it as a dress rehearsal and you’re constantly rewriting what you wish you would have done. That’s what it is to live in ego. That’s a fake world. You can’t change anything in your past. You’re looking at what your situation was and who you were. And both things are much more flexible than you’re giving them credit for.
What is your history? You think back on your golf league in a good mood and you remember all the great games and all the great people you got to play with all summer long. If you’re in a bad mood that same memory gets played back as being about the one guy who cheated in a mid-season tournament to steal the victory from you. The prize? A golf umbrella.
There is no way you’re that upset about a golf umbrella. It’s that you had this preconceived idea that you were playing by a set of “Gentlemen’s Rules” but that was an assumption on your part. Maybe that guy was the high school loser and he’s never won a single thing in his middle-aged life and so he broke his own normal ethic and stole from you a potential victory. Potential.
You being upset about something like that is fine for a short burst. Normal human relations require us to make certain assumptions about trust but, when someone breaks them we don’t want to be derailed from enjoying our lives for long. Then their actions are controlling our emotional experience of life. No way. You don’t want other people’s actions inciting your own unhealthy thinking.
Think of living in the moment as being like a fish swimming through a lake. The universe and you are so fluidly and completely a part of each other—even to the extent that it’s flowing inside your body and over your gills; a body that is made primarily of water. It’s water within water shaped like a fish. That is you. You move toward what you like and away from what you don’t.
But then you get advice and you go in directions that you’re told to go rather than where you sense you should go. You subjugate your own sense of yourself to an outsider. As good as a friend may be, and as much as they will know things about you that you do not, they still can’t ever know you well enough to make the decisions for you unless it’s a “No Not Resuscitate Order” in a hospital.
You can get thinking in such whirling circles that you fly off onto dry land where your mouth gapes for you to breathe as you drown in an ocean of air—and ocean of thought. Meanwhile the water is right next to the rock you’re laying on. The only difference is your thinking. Eventually that dies down and you recover your awareness, realize where you are, and then you can easily just flop this way then that way and you’re back and swimming free.
Don’t ground yourself with thought. You’re clumsy on land. Your ego is a flopping grounded fish. You are a sentient and compassionate human being. Stop handing your life off to your thinking and start by simply paying attention to your life before you. Don’t flop in thought, swim in existence.
I’d suggest starting right this awareness thing right away. It brings remarkable peace of mind. But to do that you have to stop leaving now—stop leaving the verb of swimming through the water to sit still, flopping around instead in the choking air of too much thought. Life is not thinking. Life is living. Less judgment. More action. Be a human who is fully being. It is such a privilege to get that chance.
Just swim. You’re awesome.
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.