Life, in and of itself, is free of obligation and importance. In reality, these things mean nothing. You can entrench yourself in this life or you can behave like a dead branch in a stream. As boring as that may be, many have done it. In their quest for security, they lose that which can still be secured, namely life itself, so long as it remains unlived.
One who thinks he doesn’t need attentiveness, and can do without it, will soon grow bored. Such a life seems empty, there never seems to be enough pleasing or interesting things. This comes about when one excludes a portion of the things from the start. We exclude those things which don’t fit into our plans, namely, the interests of others, evil and disturbing thoughts, anxiety, sorrow and other misgivings. There are simply too many things which we do not like at all. Washing dishes, for example, getting up early, working, or even bathing. We try to get these activities out of the way as soon as possible. We want to save time, so that we can devote ourselves to our „real“ lives. We believe that life should consist only of those things which entertain us and bring us joy. But this is not so.
Constant activity produces new events. Whatever we wanted to prevent, occurs. This is exactly the way to make the world – which we strive to make controllable and finite – bigger and bigger. No choice remains but to undertake more than one activity at a time. It often happens that we let a radio or TV run while we are engaged in a completely different activity, such as eating or reading. The result is that we never really enjoy either of them. We never complete anything, we are discontented and unfulfilled. Thus, although we take in a great deal, it is only fragments and disassociated images. Nothing can completely unfold, neither in us, nor around us. There is no time, or rather, „leisure time“ for that. Some want or need always prevents us from true enjoyment. This want or need spurs us on to new and more frenzied activity by which we hope to escape from this condition. Something is supposed to come and fulfill our needs.
Serious situations arise. There are so many important things which one must accomplish that hardly any time remains for living. Necessities like eating and sleeping are not mere compulsions which one must heed in order to remain alive. They are life. What would remain without them?
Why can’t we accomplish an act such as eating without someone else and in peace? When we are eating, that is exactly what we wish to do. What we are eating is definitely not a trivial matter. We value good-tasting nutrition, it should be easily digestible and promote health. We, or someone else, spend a lot of time preparing and cooking. And what happens? While we are bombarded by images and sounds, we carelessly gulp down that which should bring us pleasure. As though it holds no significance for us and is only a burdensome duty. It is not a duty, it is life.
If work, eating, sleeping and reading are only duties which one must carry out as quickly as possible, what will be the consequence? After doing so, we become bored and are, despite outward contentment, just as inwardly empty as before. If we have saved so much time by the speedy fulfillment of our duties, where have our lives gone? Why don’t they materialize,? Astonishingly, we attempt to fill the „saved“ time with things which we know to be unrewarding. The „saved“ time is now a burden to us. We don’t know what to do with ourselves. We need conversation to fill our emptiness. Moreover, new duties reveal themselves as we think about the future. We have bungled something. We have waited for life when it has already been with us all the while.
Life is not an empty mold or a hollow shell into which feelings and actions must be poured. Life, in reality, takes place between us and material things. Life is not a bag of marvels, the tasty tidbits of which are owned by a privileged few while others must wait in anguish for their share. Life is precisely that which many hold to be its components. If you really believe that you are nothing more than an empty shell, then you need amusements and television. You must be entertained and replenished so that, like an empty sack, you don’t collapse under your own weight, or put a crease in your spirit.
Why do we want to „make“ something of ourselves at all costs? Due to this very „making“, we overlook life. Isn’t it all just a conjurer’s trick, a figment of our imaginations perhaps, or a mix-up? Could it be that we have proceeded from a false premise and are now chasing after ourselves and life? A life which, in all of its manifestations, is already at hand?
You don’t have to chase after things, on the contrary, you may sit and enjoy what others still hope to obtain: namely life itself. Then it won’t matter whether it is raining or the sun is shining, things will always go well for you. What do you care if your neighbor is driving a stylish car? He has clothed himself in his Angst. What do you care if someone else is eating exotic dishes? If they were less exotic or expensive you wouldn’t be able to bear even looking at them without feeling ill.
What do you care about any of that? None of us needs to enter his life like a thief through a back door, we are already in. We do not need to creep in as though life were a skittish creature which might easily be scared off by the clamor. Life itself clatters, becomes frightened, and pokes fun at itself.
Many man-made things are only beautiful or ugly because we have made them so. But life is not our creation. Life is more than our wishes; it encompasses everything. Sometimes we must reject a thing, look at it from a distance, before we can really become enamored of it.
We can make our life more multifaceted, sure, but not better. Good turns to bad as soon as we try to improve it. If you don’t like what you see, then begin with yourself. That will suffice completely. Others, however, have probably told you something completely different. Such as: „The world is a terrible place, but even you can make a contribution towards effecting a change. Presuming, of course, that you are willing to abide by our rules.“ Of course you can make a change, but it won’t help. Enough has been done already. You need not undertake great enterprises, nor carry out heroic deeds. You need not be courageous nor must you challenge the elements. It’s enough to be silent. From this point on, you see only yourself. The beauty of it is that you no longer have to abide by the rules.
Try to accept things as they are, as if you were a mirror. A mirror does not waver, there is nothing which it considers to be „beneath“ it. A mirror is a wise and clever thing. Whatever looks into it is faithfully reflected. No mirror shows exclusively nice things. That would not be a mirror, but rather a rose-colored glossy photo. Why should we withhold from ourselves certain aspects of our personalities?
People hold their money in clenched fists, sit on their treasures like a leprechaun on his pot of gold. They have to buy safes and build houses around their money which in turn must themselves be guarded. No one can be trusted. Life then consists of precisely that which one hoped to avoid: fear. That is the exact opposite of living light. Yet, everyone accepts that „wealth will set you free“. How can something as heavy as gold make us lighter? We talk of people who are „loaded“ with money, yet with that kind of weight, we can only crawl. What purpose does it all serve? The earth already carries that weight for us.
A surplus of money and property is probably the surest means of preventing happiness in the long run. Do not surround yourself with unnecessary things. You will have to drag all of it around with you through life. No one is that strong. Is it possible to have an appetite, if your stomach is full to the point of bursting?
Taking life less seriously does not mean going about it carelessly, it means trying to take on too much at once. Let it go! One who wants to dance, doesn’t cling to chairs. Living, carrying, letting go, these are all aspects of one phenomenon. Why should we concern ourselves with any of it?
And then? There is no „then“. Life is a dance. All we have to do is begin. Naturally, it takes time to mature into an accomplished „dancer“. „How“ to dance is something we learn from life and our observations of it. Why should we stand around clueless, not knowing where to begin in life? To gaze stupidly at your surroundings fills one’s mind with thoughts of desolation in the long run. Whoever is able, will join in the dance.