Thomas's Rant

Story, myth, writings

Thoughts about things

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There is something to be said for being specific, to taking one thing at a time.

I am sometimes given to wonder that so many people do not embrace life. In the West, we have the benefits of technology and health and the shortcomings of an undeveloped spiritual side. Eastern cultures show us that without these benefits there is poverty, illness and death but that there is yet the prospect of happiness. It is not necessary to have a car, a house or mortgage, and a full-time job to be fulfilled.

Consider the ramifications of the previous sentence.

In a country like this one, in a city such as this, even on a modest 3-day income it is possible to live comfortably. No one is forcing you. No one is strangling you. No great plague sends you to an early grave. When times are tough in Melbourne, many of us face “hardship” in the form of discomfort or boredom.

While I consider what to write, while I endlessly explore how human perception works, while I try to remember lines and keep my body and mind in as fit a state of growth as I can, the great majority of society has discovered that money can be made by running a photocopying business. Or moving shares around. Or selling bananas.

Maybe we all get tired of our chosen career-paths from time to time. We look at the office and consider what we are doing. We are selling insurance, or balancing books, or street cleaning. This great secret is not all it is cracked up to be. “Show me the money!” Is there really true fulfilment in the discovery that the money is mostly found in the 21st century equivalent of watering the crops or taking the sheep for a graze.

Some of us get by providing food, water, and homes to the rest of us but the big-bucks are in the highly stimulating fields of arranging paperwork (accounting and financial services), arguing for things (lawyers, public services), securing and procuring (insurance and lending), gathering like things together (franchising and big business), organising functions and talking to each other (communication and media) or moving money from one place to another (banking and related sectors). Take it for what it is, this is all that these ‘important sectors’ entail.

And these things are vital to life processes of course but no youngster ever dreams, “When I grow up I want to be a person who gathers like things together.” These are not the dreams of anyone’s soul. As we progress to adulthood, the myth changes from, “I want to be an engine driver” or “movie star” to, “When I grow up, I want to make lots of money.” No one wants to mow the lawn or spend his life filling out other people’s tax returns and anyone that says he does is kidding himself.

Why would you want to become head of the company, the successful executive or accountant that you supposedly aspire to? I do not think there is a truly fulfilling side to managing shares, or drafting legal documents or any repetitive action. The attraction resides in the promise of having lots of money to get on with the true fulfilment of your life. Which is what? The answer seems to be comfort – a nice house, preferably large and in a good suburb, with an entertainment system and maybe I can dabble a bit in sport and the arts. Maybe your money is for going on holidays or inviting friends to parties.

I am here leaving out the prospect of having a family. This is no doubt fulfilling but I question the conservative wisdom in two respects. First, does the child need the television, the expensive toys and the massive living area? Should a child be brought up according to collective norms that change year by the year with the fashion and the times? Whose soul but your own, the parent’s, should be nurturing this child and on a parent’s means. Second, more fundamental, does this planet need more humans? This is off the subject.

Children aside, do we spend our money to pursue our dreams – that is, not our desires as such but the promise of our selves? Or do we spend money on the same unremarkable things we earn it on? On mowing the lawn, on shopping for food and clothing, on decorating a home so that we can sit inside it and watch a DVD or surf the net. Again, I challenge you with why? and what for? Is this fulfilment?

Am I suggesting we should be working for charity? For donations to third world countries and the poor? More questions occur to me: Where do these monies really go? Who are we really saving? Do you know them? Will you ever meet? Will this finally mean more than merely your own imagined impression of ‘helping’, of ‘doing good’?

Where should your money be going? I think I have a pertinent answer. Toward your own fulfilment – toward discovering your own self, toward balancing your own life. Because discovering what you are and how you can be realistically happy is the greatest gift you can give other people, the world at large. Why commit crime when you are content in your soul? Why repress, why distort, why sell us out, why merely distract yourself and others?

The secret aim of many of our lives is to distract ourselves. If only I could be home from work so I can surf the net entirely pointlessly; I can watch TV to experience that buzz of distracted amusement. I am not criticising leisure here. But: “You gotta make your own fun because if you don’t make it yourself that’s not fun, that’s just entertainment.”

Furthermore, “We try to reduce love, truth, honesty, loyalty, purpose to something physical. We search in vain for the sacred.” (Robert A. Jonson) These vague words – love, truth, honesty – these are what we truly crave as human beings. But these are not physical things we can spend money on. It becomes a distraction to consider what to spend money on. I would like to propose that we don’t need so much of it. Money is distraction. I would encourage everyone to earn only what you need to live on. Because time is another of those vague things that is so very valuable.

And what to do with this time? There is plenty to do without the waste of distraction. Examine yourself. One could spend a lifetime exploring knowledge – how the universe works, how the human body functions, how to design some new invention. One could spend multiple lifetimes exploring experience (the opposite of knowledge) – how to love another human being, how to construct a work of art, how to live a human life. And this is leaving aside the time you will have to spent on menial things like making lunch and occasionally having to file those bank statements.

The uncertainty and pain of daily living is largely inside ourselves. Our society is one-sided – it has only one eye open. This eye sees and values all that is external, physical and solid. Take the time to open the other eye, the eye that sees what is felt, what is inside, and what means. Then others may see this too.


Written by tomtomrant

30 March 2010 at 10:33 pm

Posted in philosophy

Tagged with ,

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