In western civilization, we have a very peculiar way of treating our youth. We could, for instance, say to the child, “Welcome to humanity! Here are the rules, and when you get older you may be able to create better rules.” Instead, we cultivate an eternal system of preparation.
The System of Preparation
So you go to pre-school which is preparation for kindergarten. You are going to kindergarten to prepare you for the first grade. You work your way up the ladder and if you find yourself fascinated with this system of living eternally in the future, you may go off to college. If you are smart, they recommend a graduate school and you go off and become a professor and live perpetually in this cycle.
“The most dangerous risk of all is the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” – Alan Watts
Now, of course, you can leave this system at some point and enter what they call “the World”. You go to your first sales meeting and find that they are under a very similar system. You have a quota and once you meet that quota, they give you a larger one.
Once you become middle aged, you begin to realize your life has been quite the same since you can remember. You have been conditioned to be in desperate need of a future. All in pursuit of this thing called “retirement” where they give you a discount at Hardees and you will have the time and money to do the things you’ve always wanted. At the same time, you will have no energy, rotten teeth, and aching joints. You begin to realize that this whole thing from start to finish is a hoax!
The Price of Living in the Future
You see, we live in a very bizarre human machine that creates a distinction between work and play. You go off and do your work because everyone else does and you get paid to do it because no one would care to do it otherwise. Your work is so boring, so dangerous, so dreadful that other people pay you to do it so they don’t have to. So you go to work to make money so you can leave work and enjoy this money that you’ve made. You see, “money can buy you pleasure”.
However, more often than not, you find yourself spending your hard earned money on TV dinners that save time cause you work so long, nice cars that get you to work and impress your coworkers, an expensive house that’s close to work, and Netflix/Hulu/HBO GO subscriptions so you can watch a manufactured life through a screen (or maybe you prefer to play pretend life using an Xbox or PlayStation) without engaging in life yourself. You see, you find your own life so dreadful and boring that you watch other’s to tickle that nerve. The same goes to social media.
You see, we have cultivated a culture of living in the future. We have a mindset that we are always on the move toward something bigger and better. No wonder anxiety is such an epidemic today!
I am not proposing that we do away with money, or even the system entirely. Money is a fantastic tool for controlling behavior and it allows us access to pleasurable experiences and things through the division of labor. Likewise, we all depend on the people who faithfully go to work every day to deliver the mail, grow and prepare the food, and clean the streets.
But suppose for a moment that a person saw through this system early in life and decided he wanted no part of it. This person reasons that he’d rather spend his life playing than working. That is, he’d rather do things he liked than things he didn’t like. If he’s truly sensible he’ll see all the accessories, gadgets, frivolities, and distractions of life for what they are and he’ll have very little to do with them. As such, his cost of living is significantly less than his peers and now all he must do is to find a way to get paid to play. Of course, all this comes by first choosing to live in the present.
This, then, is the great question: “How does one get paid to play?”. I will attempt an answer in next week’s post.