“The artless art is the art of the soul at peace, like moonlight mirrored in a deep lake. The ultimate aim of the artist is to use his daily activity to become a past matter of life, and so lay hold of the art of living. Masters in all branches of art must first be masters of living, for the soul creates everything.” – Bruce Lee
I started get skinny to the point of looking at my gums in the reflection of my tablet to see if I had any pocketing. Gross, I know. It’s time to get some nutrients. (Don’t worry, I am a hypochondriac. While working at a local school to give kids checkups, I took a blood test and my iron levels are fine.)
I didn’t start to look in the mirror until I started working more—before I had the luxury of considering my diet diversity. Before I was just happy with food. This was usually a tub of yogurt, bag of granola, bunch of bananas, and a loaf of bread. Nutrients beyond this would be from the cheap taco restaurant around the corner and in shift meals at work. Having a pretty girl take me out to dinner is nice, but makes me feel like a bum. (Mario knows what I’m talking about.)
I’ve discovered two (2) (II) (dos) (zwei) (二) ways to get by in life and I alternate between them. I would bet that most people do this many times throughout their lifetimes. Some do it only once and call it “retirement”.
The first way to get by in life is to work, and keep working, and early in the morning work some more, and at the end of the week work, and sometimes late at night work, and on the weekend work, and into the next week work, and work all week. Eventually you develop a type of endurance to the discomfort and you can just work non-stop for weeks, months, and your body starts to crave the routine. It’s not that your mind becomes numb, but it’s working so efficiently that there’s no time for refined thoughts.
I enjoy the ability to buy pizza whenever I want and have money saved up for travel and new clothes and my own transportation. I enjoy buying the good food at the good grocery stores and not having to worry about things like malnutrition. The funny thing about advertising is that it has no affect on those that can’t afford the product. As soon as I started working like crazy and had money to spend, I needed all kinds of things.
The efficient mind part is what I have a problem with. Fog. Fatigue. A new form of self-pity arises after working your 14th day straight. Part of the resistance is knowing that I’m letting go of my mind a bit. Knowing that I’m not going to be as analytically sharp or aware. It’s just one of the give and take parts of survival, I guess. Like how living in society is easy, but also voluntary slavery. I say voluntary, because the idea that the “world” is trying to make us into this or that is only our own innate tendency to regard other’s “judgement”. In reality, it’s only us judging ourselves.
The second way to get by in life is to work as little as possible and have oodles of free time for reading, exercise, art, observing, and thinking. This of course gets abused and turns into “laziness” [from Proto-Indo-European *las- (“weak”)]. Goals are pushed aside for other goals and the whole schedule dissolves. Life is grand for a couple of months until you realize that it’s not a self-sustaining system. You realize that more fuel has to be pumped in from the outside. Only pets who have genetically evolved to domesticate humans can get by with only “working” an hour a day.
After the first 5 or 6 weeks of not working, my mind becomes “fully awake.” The less monotonous, tedious, demeaning tasks you do to make other people money, the more you are connected mentally with the life-force-thing that flows through your veins, makes plants grow, and is in the sun and water and the wind. The more you curiously and freely wander the earth, the more you feel your connection to everything. You have the time and patience to watch the world. And it’s both interesting and entertaining.
But, there’s a but. The thing that allows you this freedom from worry and time to soak in 100% of your surroundings (which change constantly if you are traveling) is a pile of money. The size of the pile determines the duration and luxury. I find there is more to see at the ground level, so I don’t even bother with the luxury part. But, when the pile is low, you can choose two routes. You can figure out a way to start making money on the road or you can go back to your original source of income. Both options involve surrendering large portions of your mental faculties and significant amounts of time.
Since time moves at a constant rate, there do not appear to be any shortcuts. The best thing I’ve found is to figure out how to enjoy the run-ragged work part. It has it’s perks. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is one of them. Just don’t stay in the fog too long. It’s just anxiety vs. sadness. Anxiety when I’m running out of money. Sadness when I have to temporarily say bye to my mind, my hobbies, and myself.
But, there’s another but! There’s this thing called presence. Sounds spooky, right? It is a common theme that has been rediscovered by many influential people throughout history and it can be taught, but like anything, only to willing students. It has a myriad of other names too, all equally bashed by skeptics who don’t experiment a whole lot throughout their 75 years on this planet. “Awareness”, “awake”, and “grounded” are a few.
Basically, all you do is stop every now and then to ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now? Is there anything bothering me?” This looking inward somehow makes everything outward more clear. The same thing happens when you leave town for a long-over-due weekend to go camping. It’s like stopping to clean the glasses of life. This is my newest experiment. Supposedly it’s a game changer. As Boots says, “I’ll give it the old college try.”
When you get a key made in Central America, the key maker doesn’t hit it with a brush machine to clean up the edges. It’s obvious that it’s just a jagged piece of metal. It’s not some magical object that opens locks.
When you buy a machete, they grab a flat bar of metal, grind off one corner and wrap the other with duct tape or rubber. A knife isn’t something that can only be made by a knife maker. It’s a piece of metal that’s filed thin on one end. A shotgun is an oversized metal tube with a loading/firing handle. When you go to Little Caesar’s or the post office, or the grocery store, there are guards with sawed-off shot guns. They smile back and you realize the shotgun is a cheap tool, about as easy to construct as a coffee maker.
It is infinitely more clear what objects really are when you are not living in a polished consumer society.
“The way to transcend karma lies in the proper use of the mind and the will. The one-ness of all life is a truth that can be fully realized only when false notions of a separate self, whose destiny can be considered apart from the whole, are forever annihilated” – Bruce Lee
“It’s very strange when we arbitrarily decide on one drug. Regardless of its impact on people’s health and wellbeing and crimes committed under the influence of it. Which is one of the most devastating ones. Alcohol. And we make that our primary drug. And we just decide. You’re dealing with a sophisticated and intelligent civilization. You’re dealing with people who have previously impossible levels of access to information. In the face of all this overwhelming evidence, you’re choosing to put people in cages for plants. That’s unconscionable.” – Joe Rogan
Chairs with back rests just aren’t good for your body / health. I’ve been thinking about this for about two years and this is my conclusion. Your body has built in muscles that give you posture. These muscles, like the heart do not get tired, if you use them. If you remove their need to work (using a back rest) then, like giving money to a bum, you only make them weaker. You have a choice. You can keep your ability to support your own body (i.e. sit up) or you can throw it away like bone density by using a mattress. I’ll save the mattress for another article.
When Joe Rogan asked Jay Leno what caused the end of the era of Italian mob-run clubs and casinos, he said this: “Corporations are meaner and nastier and tougher than the mob. At least with the mob you got a free drink every now and then. Once the corporations came in, that was the end of that.”
Most love songs (unlike The Distance by Cake) rationalize the sickness that humans develop through interaction with other sick humans. I’m talking about not taking responsibility for your own emotions and not admitting what is reality.
“I realize all the uncountable manifestations the thinking-mind invents to place a wall of horror before its pure perfect realization that there is no wall and no horror, just Transcendental Empty Kissable Milk Light of Everlasting Eternity’s true and perfectly empty nature.” Jack Kerouac, Tristessa
Something I’ve learned recently is that you can look at everything in two lights. Like the idea of Yin and Yang. Here’s a story by Alan Watts explaining the concept:
The Farmer’s Horse
- There is a story of a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. He said, “May be.” The next day the horse returned, but brought with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came exclaiming at his good fortune. He said, “May be.”
And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the misfortune. He said, “May be.”
The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to seize young men for the army, but because of the broken leg the farmer’s son was rejected. When the neighbors came to say how fortunately everything had turned out, he said, “May be.”
The yin-yang view of the world is serenely cyclic. Fortune and misfortune, life and death, whether on small scale or vast, come and go everlastingly without beginning or end, and the whole system is protected from monotony by the fact that, in just the same way, remembering alternates with forgetting. This is the Good of good-and-bad.
The greatest fear or all is fear of the unknown. That’s why traveling to foreign countries is so terrifying and interesting. Why do you think death haunts us all? Why do you think religion has been such an important part of our history? If we knew death was only temporary or a transition, it wouldn’t be so damn scary. But we don’t know. Death is very useful to us because I think you can link it as motivation to everything we do in life. It’s a good example of the duality of all things.
“Put aside your notions of how people are and the world will surprise you with it’s grace.” – Arielle 5 to 7