Maybe the Journey Is About Unbecoming Everything That Isn’t You
Perhaps you just need to remember
I haven’t worn pyjamas in years. Of course I haven’t, they’re mad. Why would anyone want to wear a flannel suit to bed? Pyjamas have notch lapels, buttons and collars, some even have a breast pocket, as if a place to keep your Biro is up there as a top requirement for a good night’s sleep.
Pyjamas are the quintessential symbol of conformity and tradition, we buy and wear them only because that’s what people have always done. But tradition is just peer pressure from dead people and anyway, pyjamas probably hark back to Victorian times when everyone was frigid.
We’re conditioned to accept insane traditions as normal because it’s a cognitive shortcut. Pyjamas to bed. Wine with food. Popcorn with films. School, degree, job, promotion. Marriage, mortgage, kids. No need to think too much about it, just walk the path most travelled.
It’s not anyone fault. We’re highly suggestible meat skeletons who need flannel bed suits to feel accepted. None of us are self-determined entities that exist in a vacuum, blazing a trail across the sky as if The Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys was written solely about us.
In fact, I’ve read up on that song and it isn’t about a real person at all, but rather a poetic rumination on the concept of independence and personal freedom.
Poetic, because in reality, no one is free.
Society is a series of personal freedom trade offs; don’t steal, kill or talk loudly in the cinema and in return get safety, stability and opportunity. A fair deal.
But somewhere along the way, most of us surrender too much of ourselves and in the process forget who we really are.
You don’t think that’s you? Well I’m here to tell you pyjamas are just the tip of the iceberg.
The Art of Unlearning
It’s easy to buy into socially approved goals and dreams, even if deep down we know they won’t serve us. Everyone knows fame and fortune is fraught with disappointment, but we still hope it will somehow happen to us.
Then there’s that well travelled path we talked about. The career ladder, the property ladder, all those fucking ladders. Who isn’t climbing at least one?
But consider this, no baby is born wanting a promotion or a good pension, no boy or girl dreams of being a comfortably off accountant. They’re born only with the need for love, security and connection, it’s just as we get older we think those things are found up ladders.
When did we learn this? When did we agree with society that a bigger house and a faster car was the answer to our inner yearnings?
I read something on the internet the other day that spoke about this. It said:
I don’t know who wrote it but it blew me away. It chimes out truth, like an old copper bell ringing out from its tower on a frosty morning, echoing across the fields and waking us up from our collective pyjama-based slumber.
Here’s a bit about my dog
My dog, a long-haired, working cocker spaniel needs a lot of walking. Often we go on big country walks where he will endlessly dart in and out of streams, bushes and hedgerows for an hour or two.
When we arrive home his brown hair is matted with burrs, twigs and mud. Each walk ends with him on the receiving end of a bath and the painstaking removal of everything his coat has picked up that day.
Now imagine his coat is your mind and each burr is an expectation or condition you’ve picked up from moving through the fields of life. See what I did there?
We collect thoughts and aspirations that don’t come from us, don’t serve us, and won’t make us happy. They weigh us down with cognitive dissonance and existential angst because they’re not our thoughts, not our goals, and we’re walking down a path that doesn’t resonate with who we really are, covered in them.
We need to strip them back and whittle them down to rediscover the simple core of truth that is us.
As Neil Strauss said recently:
The older I get, the more I realize that most of the work is not about learning but unlearning.
Unbecome everything that isn’t you. All those years of school, work and television are a spiritual death of a thousand cuts.
We live in a world where advertising surrounds us, its single aim is to make you believe you’re lacking unless you buy their product.
We are educated in schools that ready us for work, but don’t teach us how to be happy.
We toil in modern work places where we don’t see the fruits of our labours, but instead are cogs in giant corporate machines.
Society isn’t set up to make us happy. It’s set up to teach us to be productive instruments of a stable environment. And as discussed, that’s a fair deal, but we must un-become all of that social conditioning if we hope to be who we really are.
My coach once said to me “Who’s standards are you living up to?” It was one of those questions that sent me down a rabbit hole.
I earn a good enough salary, I live in a nice house and my life is as stable as anyone can expect.
But were these my standards? I wasn’t sure. I’m still not. Was stability and savings really my big goal? Or just a need? It was terrifying how easy it was to forget, for the lines the blur between social needs and who I really am.
I need to unlearn what society values and learn what I value. I need to do this daily. This isn’t a declaration of unhappiness, nor an abandonment of gratitude, rather this unlearning, this un-becoming, is a practice of self rediscovery, a manifesto for spiritual health, it is aligning life to my standards, not those handed to me.
So act now. Unbecome. Realign. Quit. Remove the pyjamas, put on a t-shirt and go bath your dog. I can’t be clearer than that.
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