It’s holiday week again, which just means that we are packing up the car with tents and tarps and camp stoves and such, and heading down to wellfleet for 3 or 4 days of camping and swimming and basic chilling out in the company of sand, trees, and fairies.
Holi Daze redux
And even though this was the focus just 2 weeks ago, in my own humble opinion this relaxation thing is something that just cannot be over-emphasized, especially here in the good ole USA. There is nothing more damaging to your health, physically, energetically, emotionally, or mentally, than constant excess tension, and the most common way to build that up is the all work and no play dictum, or the work hard play hard corollary which usually actually breaks down as work too much and then get loaded. Yeah.
So of course aside from the fact that we are working way too much here in the States, meaning we are the world champs at putting in the hours, and aside from the obvious solution to that which is to work less and enjoy life more, there is the question of why the hell do we do that? And what does it benefit us?
Why the hell do we work so hard?
Yeah. Well. I suppose there are lot’s of possible reasons to the why–like almost as many reasons as people, and there are some folks who simply think it’s good to work, puritan ethic and all that, yet we are really setting some records here that would put the puritans to shame, and it seems to me that there is a perception of necessity that is driving all of this incessant work.
For some folks it’s literally paying the rent. Their base hourly wage is so low and their rent/food/utilities that multiple jobs and/or massive overtime are pretty much a requirement. And for most of us this is simply not the case.
For most of us the big driver is something not really like keeping up with the Joneses, since we don’t even know the Joneses anymore, as much as keeping up with the “priceless” lifestyle. We just think all the stuff we need to keep us happy is more valuable than the only thing we’ve really got–time.
Time makes lovers feel like they got something real
So we trade our time for stuff. And of course once we’ve got that stuff we discover that we need more stuff, and we wind up in the perpetual cycle that Matt Johnson so clearly delineates in True Happiness This Way Lies:
Have you ever wanted something so badly
that it possessed your body & your soul
through the night & through the day
until you finally get it!
And then you realize that it wasn’t what you wanted after all.
And then those selfsame sickly little thoughts
now go & attach themselves to something….
And the whole goddamn thing starts all over again.
The wrong kind of Work and the wrong kind of Serious
And back to relaxation. The number one killer in this country is heart disease, a disease of stress. Most of our other physical, mental, and emotional disorders are caused or exacerbated by stress as well. And this stress is basically caused by working too hard and taking life too seriously.
The two of course go hand in glove. And it’s this sort of insanity that drives people with plenty to want more and better. Where nothing is ever good enough or enough enough. Which is always perception.
No shortage of Prophets
Which is one thing I love about camping, where the simplest things are astounding and wonderful. Where sitting in the peace of trees and fresh air is totally enough, and walking to a clean and delightful fresh water pond is an adventure of high undertaking, an expo-tition.
Where life is as fresh and clear and simple as life in the hundred acre wood, with Christopher Robin, Winnie ther Pooh and the whole gang. Now the strange thing is that this story is as old as the hills. Nothing new here–we’ve had the prophets of “chill out and get present to how wonderful the simple life is” with us forever:
- the aforementioned a.a. Milne of Winnie the Pooh fame,
- P.L.Travers who wrote Mary Poppins,
- the hippies, and the beats before them,
- all the way back to Jesus Christ considering the lillies of the field which toil not (and never was Solomon in all is splendor arrayed such as these),
- and of course before that Lao Tsu and Siddhartha and all the Taoist and Buddhist bikkhus cutting out from civilization and chilling in the woods.
So it’s nothing new–and there is no reason to believe that the mass of people will start listening to this call any time soon. And still–we are each of us blessed with the ability to deviate from the herd, to step aside, if only for a few days at a time, for a few hours at a time, and redefine our needs and wants, to re-examine what is really vital, and what we have to do to get it, or maybe just accept it as a birthright.
Worth looking at. Seriously!