Ditching The Cycle - How to Stay Sane In An Insane World
What keeps you alive? Is it the knowledge that you are a vital trimtab in the vast web of existence, whose purpose is to assist in the overall functioning of the great big carnival ride that never ends, also known as life on planet Earth (resident ne’er-do-well of the Milky Way)? Is it the hope that perhaps, one day, you will be able to look back at your tangled up trip through time and conclude that you have, in fact, contributed in some way, shape, or form, to the advancement of the human race? Is it simply just to relish in this grand Darwinian experiment we find ourselves immersed in, like a pod of esoteric dolphins, submerged in the cosmic deep, blue sea that knows no bounds?
While all of these are admirable answers to that initial question, they are ultimately all abstractions of something far simpler. You see, while these are all reasons why you might choose to remain alive - and pretty good ones, at that - they are not, fundamentally, what keeps you alive. There is really only one thing you need to do in order to stay alive, on a quite literal level, and that is to breathe oxygen. Whether you’re a mother or whether you’re a brother, the constant cycle of inhales and exhales is something that is absolutely critical to the continuation of your crash course through the crumbling cosmos; it is, for all intents and purposes, the only thing you legitimately need to do, ever. That’s it...there ain’t much else to it.
Why, then, do the vast majority of humans tend to fill their time up with all of these silly games, such as the unrelenting pursuit of wealth and the recurrent gathering of goods (like smartphones, Italian-made luxury sports cars, and guitar pedals that end up collecting dust for years until you finally decide to just trade them in for a drum machine and devote the rest of your musical career to the production of ambient techno [I’ve seen it happen far too often])? I’ll tell you why - a little thing I (along with everyone else, including everyone in the medical community) like to call anxiety.
What is this “anxiety”, you may ask? Well, according to the great Dane (no, not like Scooby Doo) Soren Kierkegaard, anxiety is simply “unfocused fear”. To better illustrate what our good buddy S.K. meant by this, consider the example of a man standing at the edge of a skyscraper. When the man peeks down over the edge, he is immediately met with the intensely focused fear of falling down and facing a quite catastrophic demise; however, this same man also, for some strange reason, simultaneously harbors the desire to dive right off the edge of said skyscraper into certain oblivion. This desire stems from the unfocused fear of deferring one’s freedom of choice in that situation; the man is afraid of jumping, because he will die, but he is also equally afraid of not jumping, as, in doing so, he essentially forfeits the free will that is supposedly a defining characteristic of his species. The latter fear, being much more ambiguous than the former, is what we know to be anxiety, and it is a natural byproduct of the human condition.
Recall Jean Paul-Sartre’s infamous assertion that mankind is “condemned to be free”. The point Sartre was attempting to make with this seemingly polemical proclamation was that most humans, rather than embrace the total and absolute free will that they have been granted as a cornerstone of their existence, instead live their lives in constant fear of its implications. Indeed, to acknowledge the fact that one is able to, quite literally, do whatever one feels like doing at any given point in time is to stick one’s head down a bottomless rabbit hole - the possibilities, in terms of paths available, are endless.
This is where anxiety begins to rear its less than handsome head. If we are all truly free to simply be (with all that this verb implies), what is the point of playing the game “existence” to the end? Why must we go along just to get along, when we could be the rugged captains of our own fate? These are the types of questions that led Siddhartha Gautama to tap out of this whole thing and chill under a tree for the rest of his life, with the hopes that he could avoid having to endure this whole charade.
You don’t have to do that, though. All you have to do is breathe - in and out - and simplify your life. The first step in doing that is to simplify your living quarters.
Might I suggest one of these?