BOREDOM, ROUTINE & PETTY FRUSTRATION | Nobody told us about day in, day out growing up. We heard about the “Rat Race,” but if you’re like me (and, if you’re reading this, you probably are – that’s the point) you pictured a real race, maybe like 24 Heures du Mans, where you go as fast and efficiently as you can for the duration, in order to complete the most laps before time is up.
Ironically, we tend to gloss over the fact that Le Mans is won by the team which runs in the most circles – ie: goes nowhere – over the course of the race. As the video below will point out, the most obvious and important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.
Our minds default to thinking we are – each of us – the center of the universe. And, to some extent, we are. We are the centers of our own universes, with countless other people constantly coming into and out of our fleeting little solar systems. We are as nameless and unimportant to them as they are to us. I tend to catch myself thinking this way. For everything you read here about unity and solidarity and the pursuit of common ground as a path to power through differences, I still tend to see strangers as sketchy, ignorant obstacles. This is what happens when we go through parts of our lives with the cruise control on; when we’re not engaged in the moment. We default to possibilities that are annoying or miserable.
THIS IS WATER
The video below starts with a simple joke. Two goldfish are swimming along one morning when they pass a single goldfish going the other direction who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” The one goldfish turns to the other and asks, “What the hell is water?”
“The water” is the rich and vibrant world constantly around us. It’s the wind at our backs and the sun on our faces. It is the larger universe of which we are all a part. I think we need to keep tabs on our own little universes, but we also need to snap out of them and take a larger view of things. Tyler Durden said, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. … We are all part of the same compost heap.”
That’s a little grim, but think about it for a minute. When we’re stuck in traffic or in line at the grocery store or waiting for our numbers to be called at the DMV, all those other people who seem to be in our way are actually just as frustrated as we are at the situation. When you really think about it, we have more in common with these people than we do anyone else in the world at these moments. And when we all sulk and view each other with contempt, we reduce our existence to that which is neither special nor unique. That’s the decaying matter. That’s the Rat Race.
THE POWER OF CONSCIOUSNESS
When we turn off the cruise control and pay attention, when we recognize how much we actually have in common with the people around us who seem to be in our way, we empower ourselves to make a difference. Instead of feeling like it’s every man for himself, and everyone else is trying to one-up us, what happens when we see the people around us as just trying to get through the same kind of day we’re having?
Next time you catch yourself thinking how much the people before you in line or in traffic suck, remember to tell yourself, “This is water.” We’re all in this together. I’ve been trying to do this today and it’s surprising how good it feels to be conscious and in control in the moment. I highly recommend it. Let me know how it goes for you?
Have a nice day.