Most people, sad to say, are too rushed, frightened, and confused to think about what they really want out of life. They are hustled through school, forced into long-term decisions before they’re ready to face them, then held to those decisions.
Eventually they get old and find time to think, but by then they can’t bear to question too deeply, it would jeopardize their self-worth, and they haven’t time to rebuild it.
For an intelligent, creative, and expansive species like ours, this rush to nowhere is among the greatest of evils. And yet it continues, mostly unquestioned. At no point in the usual Western life do we stop, take some serious time for ourselves, and think about the overall:
- What’s life about anyway? What’s the point of what we do?
- What’s the purpose of a career? Why should I care about it above everything else?
- Why should I glorify the existing system and lavishly support it?
- Should I have a family? Why or why not?
- What do I think is fun? Does it really coincide with beer ads?
- What’s the purpose of being like everyone else?
We don’t address such questions. Rather, we’re pushed past them. As a result, we see little motivation in the modern West, save for the basest types
Status and Fear
The two big motivators we face in this rush through life – fear and status – are both negative:
Fear is a manipulation technology; people who make you afraid are hacking your mind. They want you to ignore reason and obey them fast. Put plainly, fear makes us stupid. But we encounter it on a daily basis and it destroys us by inches.
Status is the compulsion to compare ourselves with others, and whether we’re looking for the ways we’re better than others or looking for our shortcomings, it is deeply destructive. The entire exercise is a waste, but the system would crash and burn without.
Fear and status are, in a sense, drugs, and if you had a choice between smoking pot every day or being on fear and status every day, I’d definitely recommend the pot.
When we are confused, we pass over our own minds and deliberations. There’s an old joke that ends, “Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?” But that’s precisely what confusion does to us, and under the pressures of confusion and authority, most people will ignore their own eyes.
Such things do not happen to people who are calm and confident. But the existing hierarchies of the West require people to be frightened, confused, and blindly chasing status within them.
As a Result…
As a result, most of us hurry through life, never knowing why. We live as others do, simply because that path is streamlined for us, exposing us to a minimal level of fear and shame. But that path does something else: It keeps us from experiencing ourselves.
Seldom has this problem been put more succinctly than in this quote from Albert Einstein:
Small is the number of them who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.
So, stop following the crowd. Turn your back on the popular script. Learn to see with your own eyes, to feel with your own heart. Decide for yourself what your life will be about. Make it matter.