Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Util-i-not, or How to Live Life (StoredStory#22)

One summer afternoon, I lay on a wooden A-frame swing, pushed myself back and forth, a looked into the canopy of the elm tree, not really seeing leaves, but seeing a thousand thoughts and embracing them as best I could.
I sometimes sit and stare into space sometimes, imagining things, pondering things, asking questions, reflecting on life, and communing with myself. On this particular summer afternoon, my partner poked his head outside and asked, "What are you doing?"

 "Enjoying nature," I replied. He shook his head, ducked back inside, and slid the glass door closed.

I wonder how many people find sitting with yourself (minus a TV) to be odd. I find it enjoyable. Sitting with no added stimulation other than the natural environment or reclining in the peacefulness of your own home, devoid of much noise is one of the sanest things I think we can do. Some might find these moments to be without much use. To that, I would reply we can't measure everything by use. We can't measure much of life by its use. Life is an experience, with no purpose other than being a human being, not a human doing.

Most of my life I've been a dreamer. As such, I see life as an experience, as a journey, even; this is perhaps why I don't fit in so well with the values of world of business. It's not that I haven't tried to fit in with the culture of utility, measurement, success, achievement, productivity, etc. I have tried. It drives me crazy. It's like putting a bag over a cat's head. Cats will back up till they are out of the bag. I've wanted to back up out of my bag, but it's a pretty big bag, this thing called American culture.

I once tried to explain the my experience of getting lost in my writing. I related how I got so immersed in a writing session that I failed to notice the darkness of night envelope me. The listener said, "It's a way to pass the time." His remark startled me to my bones. Is life only a series of events where we search for things to pass the time? And pass the time till when? What are we waiting on? Something magical to happen? A great epiphany? Death?

Life is not about utility or passing the time. Life is about experience. Life cannot be measured by how usefully we use our time. Life's value comes in the experiences we have and share with others. We can only savour the moment.
I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.- Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman writes about sitting with oneself and experiencing what it means to be alive. For him, we touch real life by loafing. Even though sitting with "nothing to do" is frowned upon, we need to loaf more often. Even if we can't do it for long periods, I think having fifteen to thirty minutes every day to just sit and be would make life feel better.

 So, to make a "useful" list for how to live life, I sum up my thoughts with the following:

1. Sit, lie, float (loaf) all by your lonesome every day for a few minutes. Dream, meditate, pray. Whatever it is that works for communing with the self.
2. Try to see life not as a series of to-do's or filled with activities to merely pass the time, but as an experience.
3. Find something you enjoy just for the sake of doing it. Get lost in it. Lose yourself like a kid at play. 4. Do number one with another person from time to time.
5. Remember life is short. What are you waiting on? Oh wait, stop waiting and LIVE!