Friday, 11 December 2015

Don't Let It Bring You Down...

...because that doesn't help you or anyone else.

I find it funny that some people think, because I have strong views about the way many people of the world are manipulated by corporate elites, politicians and religious institutions, that somehow I shouldn't be happy living within it, or I'm making a point of flaunting some 'better awareness' - I should get angry and fight back the monolithic control, or get loud and bring other people down with my insight into such matters, making them feel bad about where they are. I don't think I am better aware than anyone else, because we all live the best way we see fit. We are all in this together, and it is vital to share our thoughts and understandings about life with each other. So many times I have had light-bulb moments from regular conversations with my friends and family because of something they've said, and further a-has! from books, essays, documentaries and even mainstream movies and articles, and then more holy-cows! from silence, trees, water and the vastness surrounding us.
Still, a lot of people think that if I am happy, I'm hypocritical - safe in the place I choose to live, doing the things I want to do, living well within my society as it stands... I should instead be forming some sort of protest movement, or travelling to far places to add my presence to rallying groups like Anonymous or Occupy ______, or living under a rock with disdain...
For the record: it makes more sense to me to volunteer for positions in committees that affect the future of my local community and help the children that live in it. It makes more sense for me to volunteer for organizations like the ITNJ and New Earth Nation, where my voice is added to the work of thousands trying to lift others up in positive ways. It makes more sense to invite people to my part of the world, so they may enjoy unspoiled nature and hospitality. It makes more sense for me to write poems, prose, blogs and songs, sharing them to help give light to the darkness that traps people in anger, arrogance, sadness or despair.

The way I go about 'protesting' is in positive, localized manners - and that whole "be the change you wish to see in the world" is not some psychobabbly Gandhi meme, it is a truth that has become more rote and less lived. This blog, these words, I use to confide; they allow me to get out the whirlwind of thoughts and feelings that rapture my soul, and into the hearts and minds of anyone who cares to read them. I am happy just to be able to express myself in this way, not because I may convince anyone of anything, but because it frees me up to take care of others and do the dishes and the laundry and countless other jobs, so I can do them in peace and with my full attention. This is today's rhapsody - Try not to get down about all the ludicrous things going on, find the things you can do that not only let you tolerate them, but rejoice in your ability to dissent without conflict.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Leisure Guilt - How Productivity Shames Relaxation

Productivity- The quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.  
         Leisure- Time spent free from the demands of work or duty,              when one can rest, enjoy hobbies or sports etc...

The concept of leisure dates back to elements in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle (Leisure Ethics) - understanding free will and the growth of intelligence through art, music, drama, sport and play as foundations of a well-lived life. Happiness depended upon having the time for contemplation, self-development and philosophical musings - Although, those guys had strict views on how citizens spent their leisure time, leisure was nonetheless an important part of life. In this day and age, who has time for that?  If you're not productive, even when off work, you're seen as wasting time and money. Leisure is for those who spent the majority of their lives being productive and can now afford leisure activities, guilt free. Teenagers are experts in the art of relaxation, until they are told to 'grow up' and be productive by envious and tired adults. We also have to take into account that many leisure activities are now expensive, regulated and competitive in nature, so out of reach as everyday objectives to pursue. Vacations are the ultimate recreation, but you better save up money you've made from your productiveness, and eke a few weeks out of the year (if you're lucky enough to get more than a week from your employer). Many sports are now productive pursuits in that there are goals to achieve and rivals to quash, as well as costly equipment to buy. When did fun become something to have after all the work or productive play dates are done?  The work is never really done - there's always something that needs doing. And, that nonsense of contemplation and self-development? Who needs that? For many people, those ideas don't qualify as relaxing endeavours, let alone necessary elements of happiness.
"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."  Blaise Pascal
Doing nothing is highly underrated; but, most people can't do it. The reason is that guilt pops up to say "hey, you're navel gazing, don't you have something better to do?" Better, meaning Productive. Meditation, the art of no-minding, has become yet another productive activity, where there is an end goal of generating a peaceful state of mind, so you can go on with being productive without resentment, sadness or anger - there are pills for that, anyway. The success of the pill industry is a symptom of society in general not being able to settle down and breathe.  If we could all just relax without the guilt, meditation and all its selling points wouldn't be such a 'thing'. Our minds would be free from the chattering of "what's next?" 'how well did I do?", if we could just spend our leisure moments well...

The fact is: our world is imbalanced - We have too much Yang and not enough Yin. Yang being the Masculine - the doer, the fixer, the architect, the moving force.  Yin being the Feminine - the receiver, the exposed, the breath, the softener.  Notice how all the Yang words are actions - that's because Yang energy is active.  Yin, on the other hand, is the space - not an easy concept to convey because it is the opposite of action; but it is not exactly non-action nor is it re-active. Without Yin energy, Yang takes over and crushes all the space that gives creativity, joy and inspiration to its animation. Is it any wonder why the push to be productive outweighs the pull to sit back and enjoy the ride?

Our society sees those who readily enjoy themselves, especially if they haven't 'earned' it, as unproductive members - How dare they be happy while we have to strive?  Those smiley people need to pull up their socks or bootstraps or something. I am here to tell you that leisure is just as important, if not more so than productivity.  Do not to worry about leisurely going through life - that worry stems from guilt, one of the most self-destructive feelings there is. Relax! When you enjoy your time doing nothing, you will see the amazing results that your productivity manifests when you decide to get up and do something - your productivity then becomes an extension of that joy - a perfect balance.