I just realized that the whole story I’ve been telling myself of “I’m going to die so I had better make the most of my life at every moment” is a set-up for anxiety and just buys into old Achievement bullshit that I can’t stomach anymore.
I wrote the above two days ago. The realization is still turning and settling in a deep, dark nest in a hollow, as I’m surrounded by a tender being who is grooming, nosing, and containing my little, tired, animal self.
I used to think I wanted hyper-awareness of my mortality at all times as a sort of inducement towards Living Fully. Having rejected the artificial, destructive goals of industrial civilization in favor of Living Fully, this seemed sensible. I thought: Look, I’m defining success for myself, now! Look, I see that I’ve been living in a vast sea of lies! Now with this awareness, I’ll live authentically! I’ll live the most kick-ass life I can possibly live! Now I see that I was swapping out one set of perceived punishments/rewards for another, with precisely the same self-whipping dynamic. Precisely. the. same.
The dynamic is: I’m not good enough as I am. I must strive in all moments to be acceptable. “Acceptable” means “brilliant, productive, gorgeous, kind, and patient at all times.” I must have high expectations of myself, and harangue myself with constant anxiety to keep myself on my toes, otherwise I will fail the ultimate test of arriving on my deathbed and feeling satisfied with my life. If I’m self-flagellating enough, I may beat my lazy, procrastinating, self-indulgent, pathetic self into actions that I can be proud of.
Do you see the problems with this that I do? I see them, now. I see how much my psyche has been colonized, constantly weighing and measuring my worth according to external measures that I can’t possibly control.
I want to take it all for granted. Does that sound strange? I’m supposed to be grateful, supplicating. Yeah, whatever. I don’t want to feel contrived. My whole life has been contrived. I don’t want to beat myself into shape. I don’t want to strive. I don’t want to be acceptable. It feels like the only alternative is a great, overwhelming, stunning mess, but it’s a lie. One alternative is curling in my soul-nest, receiving soft strokings, not attempting to Do Anything. If I am moved to action, let it be motivated by curiosity, playfulness, and love, rather than my supposed obligations to myself and others.
The truth is, I don’t have to do anything, ever. I don’t have to have a brilliant life. I don’t have to accept a default setting from the factory that insists I should be relentlessly monitoring myself for quality control. I don’t have to save the world. I don’t have to save anybody else. I don’t have to save myself.
I could just take a nap. I could go for a walk and listen quietly. I could receive love-baths that soothe and inspire, demanding nothing.
I could waste time, daydreaming, writing my ravings, or simple gestating the ravings until they desire release. I could listen to my loves, simply listen, absorbing, empathizing, holding tenderly.