Longer and longer lives for fewer and fewer people born in the civilised world. What is it all about? Is it possible that our “metaphor” for life — a journey from birth to death — prevents us from living the time we have?
Most of us live in a societal trance from cradle to grave, without being offered meaningful alternatives. From right wing conservative to left wing radical to revolutionary or insurrectionist race/religion warrior, it is all part of the lifelong mass delusionary flow of human mind and protoplasm. Can it really be a journey from nowhere to nowhere, stuffed with impassioned ideologies, drugs, and other diversions to occupy our time? A commonplace pattern for rich and poor — but is it real?
Fast Journey to Comfortable Irrelevance, then Death?
This is the journey: We learn in school that we are meant to be educated, make a “living,” then relax into a much-deserved retirement before dying. Some die before reaching retirement age, others reach the age of retirement without the resources to live comfortably, and many reach a comfortable retirement only to descend into alcoholism or other states of disease or listless meaninglessness.
Now that we are living longer and more comfortable lives, perhaps we could also live more mindful lives as well. We are slaves to metaphors such as “life is a journey” without considering what the alternatives might be. A journey can be all-absorbing, generating many short-term and longer-term anxieties over legions of worries that emerge at every step.
Many see the journey as a “race to the finish.” A journey is supposed to have an end point, but if we are not careful we tend to obsess over “the end.” This dark obsession can overshadow everything else.
Alan Watts was a non-doctrinairian philosopher who often played off of Eastern Philosophy, but whose thoughts were far larger than a geographic or “school of thought” label. Instead of a blindered journey, he promoted a mindful awareness that had the potential to transcend most trance-life metaphors.
Everything we do and accomplish will be encapsulated between our births and our deaths — a “journey” of sorts. But within the overall journey will be dozens or hundreds of smaller journeys. And it is often the case that the pauses within a journey are what make the journey worthwhile. The stops along the way. The whimsical side trips.
But metaphors that begin as liberators often end as prison walls. And so it can be with the “life is a journey” metaphor. We need to grow, to experience rites of passage, to build skills and competencies, to create a space that is ours to work and live and grow within. And play. We also need to keep faith with those to whom we have made commitments.
But if we begin our lives with larger and fresher metaphors than “life is a journey,” it is likely that we will open to larger realities. We will be more likely to commit to people and causes that lead us into a more expansive and abundant future — a place of more mindful and fulfilling possibilities than we would otherwise have dreamed.
We have time, if we can slip our own traps and choose to open the doors and pass through.
In the Al Fin Dangerous Child Method of Education and Child-Raising, we show children of all ages many pathways to a larger journey beyond the mass delusion. A better future requires a more mindful and competent cohort of humans. The way to the next level — a more expansive and abundant human future — involves both building up and breaking down. Disruptive innovation, creative destruction and transformation. It is not for those who crave their long journey comforts and live by long journey platitudes.