life isn’t out to get you

Life Doesn’t Care – Why Should You?

I’m kind of concerned that this is going to come across as a nihilistic post, when it’s certainly not intended as such.  It was inspired by a recent article about motivation with the basic idea that “sometimes the best way to get things done is to give up.” The idea is that often too much time is spent trying to get us “motivated” – in other words, trying to feel like doing something. The argument is that no, trying to convince yourself that you do feel like doing something – or worse, that you should feel like doing something – is counter-productive. It’s ok if you don’t want to do something. Accept that. Indulge in it, even.

And then do it anyway. I’ve written about it before, and even decided there should be a whole category called “Didn’t Wanna. Did It Anyway” on my “Have Done” list.

That, by the way, is the list you ought to have at the end of a day of working through To-Do’s. For some reason, we never focus on that…

“God Does Not Play Dice With the Universe”

I don’t know that Einstein ever really said that, but it occurs to me that there are two ways to take it – either with the emphasis on the dice, or with the emphasis on “God.” Many theists use it to back up intelligent design theories, and that’s all well and good – I would never try and argue someone’s faith. But either way you take it – whether as an argument that there is a definite plan to the universe, or that it’s all happenstance and the dice are rolling themselves, it comes down to the same thing: the universe was not created for YOUR convenience.

It’s a convenience that we share. And thank God (sic) for that! Can you imagine the pressure you’d be under if the entire world was centered around you? That would mean that every tragedy that happened was directly traceable to YOUR needs. All of that beauty around you, and you’re spending the afternoon watching re-runs of The Shield? How could you waste such richness? With an entire universe shaped for your benefit, you had better amount to something or else you are wasting the biggest gift anyone could ever give you!

That’s a lot of pressure. No thanks, I say. I am much happier living in a universe that exists for all of us, equally, with laws that have exceptions that we don’t understand and exceptions to laws that we haven’t even imagined yet. I don’t have to worry about the world in Australia right now, no matter what my newsfeed tells me – rather, I get to enjoy the small wonders, like the fact that my grandson Victor, after a rough night of crying, blew me a kiss when I dropped him off at daycare.

It’s Not Personal. It’s Galactic.

Yet even when we accept that we only have a very small part of the larger world to perceive and interact with, we still tend to treat life as though it was a Grand Opponent. “Why is the world out to get me?” “Sorry I’m so mixed up, Mercury is in retrograde” or even the classic “I just can’t win!

Here’s a secret: much like in yoga, you can’t win because nobody is competing against you. Life is simply happening, just the way it’s supposed to. The measure of your suffering, as the wise Zen masters say, is simply the difference between the way you think life ought to be and the way life is.

The challenges of life get much easier to deal with when you realize that they’re not part of some grand conspiracy or even some trend of the odds. Sure, you certainly contribute to the odds of things happening to you through your own action, whether that’s a tummy-ache after a carton of ice cream or your house being swept away because you chose to live in a certain geographic location.

But you can only predict your failures or your successes to a certain degree, and a large part is the way you choose to define “failure” or “success”.

For starters, if you want to win: stop inventing imaginary invincible opponents

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