Released on July 4, 2019, AKA Independence Day for all you American folks, this one is the first Reflection from the collection I am calling Magus of Paradidomi. Paradidomi is the Greek word for ‘surrender.’ The greatest gift you can give yourself in life is to surrender to it, totally. There is nothing to fear in surrender, and everything to gain. Life is a musical thing, and you, the real you, is a marvelous musician. We strive so much to arrive at places, but the only place worth anything is where you are, right now, at every given moment. If we surrender into it, each moment, well, that is how the magic happens.
Life is so fucking hard, isn’t it? I mean, really, we have to get up for our jobs. We have to pay attention what we’re doing at our jobs. We have to make sure that we get all of our duties done when we’re at our jobs. Then we have obligations: to other people, to our family, to our partners, to our cats, our dogs, our cable providers, our heat and light companies, our…
Jesus, I’m exhausted just writing that. No wonder so many people dream of winning the lottery or having their big break or whatever it is that is going to make them rich. I mean, being able to retire early would be a dream, wouldn’t it?
One of the things that has always bothered me is this idea of the job. Seth Godin, the enlightened marketing guru, calls it that: the job. The thing that is foisted upon you, like some great burden. If you want to live, you’ve got to get a job. You need to provide for yourself and your family. So, you go to your job and you do the thing with the widgets and you get paid. Generally, people don’t want to do jobs – not the way that they want to work.
There is a difference there, between jobs and work. Work is what inspires you, what makes you crazy, makes you dream. Jobs are a goddamn chore to the core. There is a separation there, a bright line between a ‘good’ thing and a ‘bad’ thing.
Why do we see things that way? Really, what is the difference between doing one thing and doing another? Some desire into the mix of what we do? And when you are sitting on your arse doing nothing, can you really say you are ‘comfortable?’ Most likely not – people go stir crazy from doing fuck all for extended periods of time. Every time I am at home sick in bed, bingeing Netflix instead of being at the office, I feel like I am going crazy.
There is a better way, you know. One that does not involve you seeing a job as a chore and your work – your art – as two different things. A way that does not see anything as good or bad or indifferent. I mean, your life is your life! There is no separation between paperwork in your office, taking a dump, making love, and playing a video game, if you look at it in the proper light. But, because we have been conditioned to see pain as this horrific thing to be avoided, and pleasure as this thing to be held onto for dear life, we dread going into the office on Monday when we are ruminating on Sunday nights and sigh and complain when duty calls us to stay beyond closing time on the button. And vacations - we have to bust our asses to get out of work and then bust our asses when we get back. We are so depressed when a vacation is over!
We tell ourselves many things about these undesirable aspects of life. That we need to grit our teeth and bear it. That we must hustle and strive. Strive and strive and strive and strive until we arrive.
See, the thing about living in the moment is that it is no longer about striving. You have arrived. There is nothing to pull you into the future or into the past. Sure, you might relive memories or imagine things about the past or the future, but you don’t live in them. In the moment, the reason that you hate being at your job is because you wish you were somewhere else. And that is because you are being unrealistic. And by unrealistic, I am not talking like your mother might have spoken to you when you were a kid: “it’s so unrealistic of you not to want to go to your job!”
What I am talking about by ‘real’ is this: what is real is what you are experiencing, at any given moment. You can be free in a jail cell or on a beach in Mexico. The problem is that your judging mind has expectations of how it should be. And that judging mind is a fucker of the highest order. It does not want you to be happy. It’s what is preventing you from being happy.
Deep below the judging mind is the experiencing mind. The witness. It does not give a shit about what the show is: you can crack up, lose your cool about something, suffer totally because of your circumstances, and the witness just witnesses. It knows the difference, of course. It knows that there are no better or worse experiences, just experiences.
The funny thing about this whole dichotomy, of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parts of life, is this: the more you identify with the experiencing mind, the one that does not give a fuck, the happier you will be. And your world will start to change. For what the judging mind might call ‘the better.’
To win the game, you have to not play. You have to stop striving. You have to stop wishing that the world would be different than what it is. You have to stop taking everything so damn seriously. And then, like magic, you will do exactly what you need to do to succeed. You flip the script and thrive, trusting in your self to do what is right as you drift along in the moment.
Because the world is set up this way. If you take it seriously, it will be serious. There will be serious consequences, the world will narrow, you will see things as catastrophic and you will rue the day you were ever born. If you cease taking it seriously, well…
Jesus talked about this. He said, essentially, that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to kids. What the fuck do kids care about? Not a goddamn thing. And yet, they are happy and having an adventure. They don’t give a shit about the bills, about the car payments, about anything in the world. They simply do. Be. Are. Are what? Kids.
The thing is, you will always have a reason to believe in the seriousness of the world. Between bills, and bosses, and jobs, and illness, and death, you will always be tempted to believe that you have to be serious to succeed. That everything will fall apart if you don’t grab and hold on for dear life. Hell, it is pretty much the thing that people say, even some of the more enlightened teachers. You need to work hard, ‘get after it,’ go fucking cracked, because you gotta chase dat paper and win the game of life.
Fuck me. Sounds like shite. I would much prefer just not taking it seriously.
Underneath it all, the problem is your perspective. You might think, based on what has come before in this Reflection, that I don’t care. But that is not the case. I simply threw out my judging mind and started to look at life the way a child does again. I work hard constantly, both at the office and on my writing. But it’s not because I make a conscious decision to do so, it’s because I am doing what I am supposed to in every given moment. Like Master Yoda said, no trying, only doing. And who you are wants you to enjoy the ride - the whole thing, not just parts of it. Jimmy Buffett, that Zen master masquerading as a somewhat underrated and silly comedic entertainer, said ‘your intuition is a much better master than the clock on the wall.’ He also said in a song that he sees no difference between work and play. Brilliant mind that he is, he asked, what if life was just a cosmic joke, and the hokey pokey is what it’s all about? Great fucking question.
Joseph Campbell once said, ‘I don’t need faith, I have experience.’ He was talking about faith in some greater arrangement to the world, whether you want to call it God or nature or the true self. You need courage to pass through the first gate, to see the world for what it is and get your experience. And then, after the light bulb has gone off, you can trust in the world to take care of you. You can let go of the reins a bit. You can stop being so serious. Sadhguru said that the main thing keeping people from enlightenment is the fact that we take everything so damn seriously in our modern world.
I made the decision to do that, a while ago now. To abandon seriousness. And, just like what happened to George Costanza in Seinfeld, the opposite of what I expected happened. Instead of falling on my face, I started thriving at my job. My art flows through me like electricity. My daughter is my world and I always have time for her. My parents treat me as some sort of secondary patriarch. By all accounts, from the outside, I look like I have my shit together.
All I had to give up were the fucks.