In search of bliss
It’s a beautiful sunny morning in August, at the height of summer.
I woke up feeling good. Although I am in that weird state of being again. Weird because there are two conflicting situations in my life at the moment. On the one hand, I am completely free, I am not bothered by work or some kind of job to do. All the 24 little hours of the day are my own. I completely own my existence. There is no one telling me what to do.
That feels great in this moment. In the next moment, it feels terrible because I realize that it is my own responsibility what to do with my time. Of course, I am extremely good at wasting my time. Sometimes it’s hard to create your own agenda.
I never really do what I want to do.
I keep myself from following my bliss as Joseph Campbell urged his students to do so.
And I do that because there is this voice in my head saying:
„You need to pay the rent, you need food, you just need money, girl! So get a job and make some money! Do that first and then you can follow your bliss.“
I don’t want to be held back by fear. What will happen when I run out of money and can’t pay the rent or buy food? Will I die? Will I be miserable? Is this what war feels like? Where exactly is the bottom line of existence? Is there freedom in this place because there is nothing that can be taken from you?
If you knew you could not fail and if you can be sure that people will not judge you or put you into comparison, how would that change the way you live your life?
Now, isn’t that just a very thought-provoking question?
Is it possible to return to the mindset of your early childhood when you were this little wonder of freedom. As little ones we were selfish in the best possible way, we didn’t care about what others thought of us (well, we simply didn’t know that the opinion of other people matters) and we just did what we felt like doing. We also didn’t feel ashamed of our body, we ran around naked the whole day and this just felt normal.
I can do whatever I want to do. Right now I write. In English. This is something that feels absolutely natural to me in this very moment. I don’t have to overcome any efforts at all.
If life feels like play, isn’t it then when we have reached the highest form of existence? It seems so terribly wrong to me that we allow ourselves to engage in carefree play and playfulness only until the age of about five years old.
Why is it that the global society has agreed on the fact that life should be about hard work, not about play. Is it because play does not generate money? Play does not have a goal, there is no return of interest, there is no purpose or sense, it’s not logical, so why should we do it? Like, what’s the matter of play?
Capitalism. If it doesn’t feel like hard work than it has no meaning or value. This is what is preached to us. Pass the exam.
In school, you learn how to work hard. If you don’t put in the effort you will fail and prove yourself not to be a worthy member of society. You will be punished for not taking part in the competition.
Competition. Competition. Competition.
What about competition? Say, Darwin. The survival of the fittest. Nature is constant competition. For resources. For a mate. For territory. If you don’t eat me, I’ll eat you.
Play can be competitive, actually. It’s when the young train for later, for when it gets serious because being grown-up is a serious business. It’s about survival. It’s about paying your rent…. You have to play by the rules. Or have you not?
In the book „The Craftsman“, Richard Sennet writes that grown-ups actually used to play games like children before the industrial age. This seems controversial as childhood is actually an invention of the last 150 years. For a long time, a child was seen as just a little grown-up. There was no understanding for the special needs of a child. What is the truth?
Play is fun. But play is also the opportunity to practise. When I say that something feels like play to me because it doesn’t cost me any effort what do I mean by that? Isn’t it true then that I mastered a certain activity or skill because I practised it so often?
Practice and repetition will turn anyone into a master. Mastery is what I want to achieve in life. You just keep doing one thing. Like writing. I struggle with writing for so long. At one time I realized that first of all, I have to do it my way. I need to make sure that my needs and my conditions are met to create a piece of writing. When Malcolm Gladwell said in an interview with one of my heros, Tim Ferriss, that for one hour of writing he spends three hours thinking about it I felt a little relieved.
Next to mastery I strive for autonomy and freedom in my life. But even this has to be practised because we raise our children like workers in the industrial age. We raise soldiers for offices but we certainly don’t raise free spirits. We don’t let our children practise free will.
So I have to make up for that now — at the age of 30. I am slowly waking up — not like Cinderella through the kiss of a handsome prince (although it would be much appreciated…) but through being courageous and present. This mindset is a habit. It’s essential to experience life. But it’s out there, it’s not on Facebook. The reality is a construction. What if you dare to look behind the curtain?