Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life & success (that’s all)

First there is life. That is all, life. Life in the very broadest sense. Life and being, much the same. Rocks have life, as does plastic.

Then there is animate life. With all the attendant drama of moving, stopping, living, dying, reproduction, transformation.

We, with our fine minds, our powers of invention, like to make up stories about how things are supposed to be, but after all there is only life. It is the most important thing to remember. If we could keep that in our mind we would not chase dreams so much. Those dreams that have led us to spin stuff out of oil and metal like crazy fools.

What is it that we wanted with all of this stuff that we have made? A warm place, enough to eat, to be clean and healthy and happy in our families, however constituted. Everything else is just the means to those ends, or a detour. Everything.

Isn't it absurd that we cannot understand even our own needs? Do we define success by fulfilling our needs? No, success for us is about being better than everyone else, or trying to be. Much good that does. In fact, it does much evil. We hardly recognize the world we have made anymore, it is so over-built.

Our heroes of late have been engineers and physicists. We have all manner of machines. Now we live in order to keep the machines running. We work in order to pay for rent, food, water, for electricity, for the car and gas that goes into it, for the cell phone, cable-TV, internet connection, for the airplane, the airport, the shipping vessels, the delivery trucks, the factories, the tractors, the hospitals, the oil-rigs, the shopping centers, the cities! We have to keep all those machines running, each of us, otherwise we will be going backwards!

We can't imagine that, going backwards. We are terribly afraid of going backwards. Because going backwards means having less power, means being vulnerable, means, perhaps, failure. Failure to be better than everyone else. To do away with what is not really necessary, with what no longer works, is not failure.

Perhaps if we understood that seeing ourselves and our needs very clearly is a way forward. If we can see what we truly want and need, we will not expend energy, increasingly precious energy, on anything that does not get us there directly. What gets as much of the world as possible there, to what we truly need.

So one must challenge the idea of that false, invidious success, in the name of life, a good life, a good world. It is not so difficult, to get to the world we need.


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