Noon, Meditation #12
This is the 12th meditation in the middle section, Noon, from the free serialization of my book, A Million Different Things: Meditations of The World's Happiest Man. It's concerned with freedom and choice. A full index of all entries to date can be found at: Gift of a Million Different Things.
David Stone, Writer
The first step in making choices requires the recognition and acceptance of power. Without personal power and spiritual awakening, choices made are like rooting for the home team, irrelevant apart from the pleasure of participating. Taking control is not the easiest or most colorful decision to make. It’s much easier to settle into the comforts we’ve been provided and which evolution has taught us is enough. But down that trail waits the end of human growth and expansion. Continuing evolution will demand larger, more effortful commitments than conquering the natural environment ever did, but the rewards can be spectacular.
Nonmaterial gains benefit and empower us first. In beginning to make real choices again, in taking up our power, we have a chance to open gates to pastures never before visited, to soar and float over fields of extraterrestrial pleasure. Funny thing is, it’s easy to throw off the bonds. All anyone needs to do is to become more awake, more aware, and to start making deliberate choices in every moment, to agree to enjoy the ride.
The clothes I wore, the hours I worked, the books I read were all conventional. I was drifting along as my friends were, repeating the same conditioning phrases, edging in and out of listlessness and a depression so commonplace it was taken for granted.
Next time you visit a public space, try to do your own research. Do it with objectivity and detachment, like the scientist you are, in a place where you can observe as diverse a population as you can find. Here in New York City, I use subway cars for a captive sample, but being underground may skew appearances. So, pick a busy street. Building lobbies, shopping malls or lunch counters can make good labs. Be an honest observer. Be invisible and just watch.
What is the default expression on most faces? Is it a smile, even a vague or somewhat vacant one? When not engaged in conversation, what mask comes up? Is there amusement? Delight? Interest?
After watching for a while, what is your general impression of those you’ve observed? Have you seen contentment? People with invigorating things to do? How much of what you have seen is little more than players going through the motions?
If you’re in the position I was in, you may just have seen a fair estimation of yourself.
Our lives are routines in which we make few decisions and, making few decisions, have little reason to establish meaning. The chain goes on. With little reason to establish meaningful values, we needn’t bother to learn, either through observation, introspection or study. Without learning, our brains lose muscle. Accepting a readymade routine can support the illusion that its practice is reasonable.
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Is this what any of us came here to do? Have we been successfully pitched the idea that we plunged our fifty-trillion cells into action for nothing special? Is it all just titillation, and the more superficial, the better? Is the magnificent expression of an individual human creation accumulated for nothing more elevated than work, food, sleep and television? How did it become so easy to accept the lie that we should live idly and die into nothing?
Listen, a deity of any description, a source, an all-encompassing spirit, a natural drive–whatever you prefer–could never exert enough forces over eons just to evolve a being designed to surrender into deadening routine. Should our deaths leave so scarce a hole in the world we leave behind?
We’ve been lulled into using our vitality to benefit strangers. We’ve become intoxicated with material abundance. Nothing wrong with material abundance, but according to who’s definition? Does what we have come from what we want or what we’ve been conditioned to want? Is it freedom inducing or freedom devouring?
We don’t really know much about happiness after childhood, anyway, do we? The older we get, the sillier the word sounds when applied to us. We displace happiness and take a step down to what we call “satisfaction.” We’ve done enough and answered all our calls. We’ve done what we were supposed to do. Vicarious diversions abound. That’s as close as we get to “happy” as adults.
Do we ever notice that our experiences are awfully like everyone else’s? Moreover, aren’t they awfully like the experiences others have been having for a long time? What do we do that’s genuine or original to ourselves? We’ve been told that no two snowflakes are alike. Nothing in nature seems to be a replica. This applies a thousand times more accurately to us as individuals.
Each of our cells and their assignments is unique, taking as blueprints the genes of our ancestors and exposing them in interaction with external reality. This is all, this is everything we do. If we are unique, then we do this uniquely–in our own, individual way, unlike any other. Our lives are a series experimental steps along the way to a constantly evolving result. We see more, feel more, know more, and we become more. As we become more, we add to the amassing of experience through the ages.
We buy this only in the absence of thought. We’re persuaded to glide instead, buffered by examples of what everyone else is doing and has been doing for as long as we can remember.
It may be as much as we’ve ever seen.
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