Wait. What? Life isn’t a journey? That’s so contrary to most of our life teaching. Alan Watts’ basic message is that our cultural conditioning and standardized system of “education” keeps us in a rat race. From kindergarten to high school, college to graduate school, to career promotions to…retirement in old age.
These nonstop messages ring in our ears and are the foundation of our culture: Achieve, achieve, achieve! Win! Don’t be a loser!
I think the key point here is don’t get caught up in getting to a destination while missing out on what happens the entire way there. I’ve done this a lot in my life, and it doesn’t feel good when you realize how much you are doing it. At the same time, the moment you realize you are doing it, you gain a powerful lesson you would not have internalized had you not done it. Nothing happens by accident, we are here to learn. But, if we are vigilant with our lessons and internalize them, it’s how we will evolve and move beyond the unconsciousness we live in now.
We can choose to slow down, to quit over-scheduling ourselves (and our children), to quit working for the weekend. We can choose to sit, drink a cup of tea and do nothing else. We can choose to silence our devices and let our minds’ endless chatter settle down for a change.
We can choose to leave a soul-sucking school, relationship or job in favor of pursuing our passions.
We can choose—and this choice is a privilege.
It’s neither easy nor automatic, but making the choice to move toward a slower-paced, more meaningful, heartful and mindful life can start to affect us in the most amazing of ways.
Your life is not a journey—and it is a journey. The path is the goal. There is no “there.” It’s right here and now, and nowhere else, and at no other time than this.
So quit searching, quit seeking, quit criticizing, and quit worrying. Quit living exclusively in the past and the future.
Take a deep breath. . You are present. You are here.
“The existence, the physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. That is to say, it doesn’t have some destination that it ought to arrive at.
But that it is best understood by the analogy with music. Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano. Why? Music differs from say, travel. When you travel you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition. The point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… Because that’s the end!
Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance.
But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty.” And you go onto kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade. Then, “Come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world.
Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for. Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.
Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line.
If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.
But we missed the point the whole way along.
It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.” -Alan Watts