Monday, May 5, 2014

Just saying: The art of being

I just heard that my old company has laid off a significant portion of one of it's major divisions. It got me to thinking about all the 'downsizings' I sweated through over the years. If I was handed the black bean how would I pay the bills?, afford my next car?, the bigger TV?, and I'm struck by how all that contrasts sharply with what seems to be a growing sub-culture of people opting out of the corporate/consumerism lifestyle. (I think it's a growing community but that might simply be because in this day of electronic communications it's easier to get the word out and I'm hearing more of the voices of these people.)

News of these layoffs reached me just as I returned from an impromptu camping trip, one precipitated by a week-long forecast of glorious weather. Weather I was able to take advantage of because I have reduced my obligations and commitments and responsibilities down to the basics.

While on that trip I was thinking a lot about, and even spending a few moments practicing, the art of being, of living in the moment, of simplifying.

Many through the centuries, including philosophers, Socrates, Freud, (Though he didn't particularly like being labeled a philosopher.) apparently even the gloomy doomsayer Kierkegaard, and other thinkers such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, have pointed out that true happiness can be achieved by living in the moment, by setting aside the clutter of stuff and ambition and the past and schedules and the future and instead embracing the glory of the moment. In fact achieving happiness by living in the now is the Third Noble Truth of Buddhism. A religion by the way that is happy to coexist with all beliefs rather than try to stamp them out, which is why, in its 2500 year history, there has never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism.

 I can't claim to be very good at it, after all I spent a huge percentage of my life worrying about everything except the now so I've had very little practice, but I'm certainly a believer these days in simplification and living for today, (Which feels a lot like cheatings since I've already collected most of the 'stuff' I covet.) but I've been taking baby steps into this gentler, kinder way of life.

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