Everything “normal” in the Western system trains you to be a placeholder: You are expected to attend the schools to which you’re assigned and complete the necessary programs. By doing that, you can attain a nice slot in the big machine. Then you’ll function in that general capacity, probably for many years. This is called success.
You’ll be able to get car loans, a house loan and possibly even 2.1 children. And then, when you’re too old or sick to continue, the machine will drop you out and a new person will be called in to fill your slot. A few years later you’ll die and a few people will say nice things about you. You will have been a placeholder, perhaps a mildly rewarded one, but that’s all.
It ain’t enough.
We are unlimited beings. All of us can create willfully; all of us are geared for transcendence. It’s a crime – a sin against the universe – to hold such creatures within fixed roles. And make no mistake, the entire, fear-driven conformity complex exists precisely to hold you in a non-threatening state, unable to consider any other possibility.
“That’s Too Dramatic”
Sadly, this isn’t too dramatic a characterization: What people actually do falls horrifyingly short of what they’re capable of doing. Pretty much every thinker of note has seen that much. We have a long, long way to go… a long way to grow. And being a placeholder keeps us away from most of it.
Treating the system du jour as a great human accomplishment is like a six year-old proclaiming he’s the fastest runner in the world because he can beat his little brother.
And please understand that the tragedy of placeholding applies to people of most types. If you’re poor, you concede to being a victim and get paid (meagerly) for holding that place. If you’re rich, you glorify the system as it is, make the requisite donations, and encourage the people below you to love the system: that’s your place.
What I’m telling you is that the whole thing is a waste. A thousand years from now, people will look back and wonder how everyone could play along with it… just like we look at the people who treated blood-letting as a valid medical procedure, or who believed vehemently in the divine right of kings.
So, no, this isn’t too dramatic.
“Okay, But I Need The Job”
Jobs are, for the vast majority of us, practical necessities at some point. By itself that’s not a problem. The problem is when the job becomes the primary and you become the secondary. So long as the job is something you use, it’s not a problem; when the job becomes larger than you, it is a problem.
To state it very simply,
We should use the world; the world shouldn’t use us.
And you can also keep in mind that the job needs you too. You’re not some weakling clinging to a job, because without it you’d be terrified and powerless. We are producers, not beggars. Our work has value.
Long term, being entrepreneurial might be better for you, since it gives you greater control, but that’s not a requirement. Just don’t forget the fundamental: We use the world, the world doesn’t use us.
“What Are We Supposed To Do?”
What we’re supposed to do is to live according to our own judgment… and to hone our judgment. The world is rigged against that, of course, making it harder than it should be. And so I’ll devote the rest of this post to thoughts that may help. Please go through these slowly and grasp them well.
If any of these strike you, please copy them and spend time with them. They are resonating with you for some reason, and that’s a reason worth pursuing.
Here they are, with my best wishes:
Every human being must have a point at which he stands against the culture, where he says, “This is me and the world be damned!” (Rollo May)
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is more people that have come alive. (Howard Thurman)
Most of our notions about the world come from a set of assumptions which we take for granted, and which, for the most part, we don’t examine or question. (Werner Erhard)
People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. They will practice Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn the theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic texts from the literature of the whole world – all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls. (Carl Jung)
I became healthy while creating. (Goethe)
I would like us to do something unprecedented, to create ourselves without finding it necessary to create an enemy. (James Baldwin)
Life should be an exciting adventure. The sun should rise within you each day in terms of the richness of your feelings and the sharpness of your perceptions. You should carve out goals for yourself that will inspire you to enthusiastic action. (Maxwell Maltz)
There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by not trying. (Francis Bacon)
Nothing, I am sure, calls forth the faculties so much as the being obliged to struggle with the world. (Mary Wollstonecraft)
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. (Joseph Campbell)
What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable? (John Green)
It is the vocation of each person to become unique. (Sam Keen)
In every creative conception there is an element of primeval freedom, fathomless, undetermined by anything, not proceeding from God, but ascending toward God. (Nikolai Berdyaev)
I can certainly say that descriptively healthy human beings do not like to be controlled. (Abraham Maslow)
The truth is that many people set rules to keep from making decisions. (Mike Krzyzewski)
The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. (Albert Einstein)
The meaning of life is that it is to be lived, and it is not to be traded and conceptualized and squeezed into a pattern of systems. (Bruce Lee)
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If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love The Breaking Dawn.
After an attack crashes currencies and economic systems, the world is divided. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and data systems: clean cities and empty minds, where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services and with limited communications; shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.
After reading it, you may never look at life the same way again.
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