"Take in what you do not want, and give away what you do want. Take in what is unpleasant, and give away what is pleasant. Take in pain, and give away joy.
It sounds a bit insane—emotional suicide, as one person put it. But it counteracts that deeply ingrained tendency to focus on yourself first and everyone else second. It uses the transactional attitude to destroy itself, because you give away everything that makes you feel happy and you take in everything that makes others unhappy."
- Ken McLeod
An essential theme in my life and writing is exploring universal truths. To me it is unquestionable: we live by certain psychological physics - like laws of the mind that are invisible but affect all lives equally.
After living long enough, hard enough, painfully enough, intensely enough, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Life, simply as it already is, is a treasure to be cherished. It's as if our minds our designed to take this for granted, to inhale information, to prefer novelty, to desire greater and greater levels of advantage and possession. But eventually... eventually... the circular, never-ending nature of this makes itself known. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. The pot of gold is all around us. Always has been.
Seeing life this way has powerful implications:
First, it kindles a fire of gratitude that seems near impossible to extinguish. How many times have you heard the aphorism "take something for granted" - probably thousands. Probably so many times it has utterly lost its meaning. But try, right now, to see these words for the first time. To take something for granted - to be fully unaware how unlikely every iota of your life is, being here, having everything you have. Shelter. Food. Friends. Family. Safety. Is it possible to see this as treasure? Or is it too insanely hard to compete with the antithesis: all the things you do not have?
Second, if, somehow, you are able to kindle this fire of gratitude for all your good fortune - is it not then obvious to wish as many humans to have this, too? Not through convincing them, not through coercion, not through preaching or reprimand. But rather to help them on their own path - to help them indepedently learn and wander their own way toward the mother of all epiphanies? That everything is OK?
Our Greatest Responsibility: Serve Others
All of us have a deep wish to feel complete. To feel satisfied. We're thrust into life as children to observe a bunch of adults feverishly chasing this, until we mature and become fully-immersed in our own chase. And then maybe, just maybe, inside this very personal adult chase, we discover how unnecessary it is to our happiness.
Of COURSE, we can continue dreaming, aspiring, pursuing. These things are not to be eschewed. But if we cannot halt them at any given moment, and fully admit everything is OK already - why not?
All humans yearn for inner peace. If we are lucky enough to touch it ourselves, even if only for a few moments, we owe the world. The entire world and all of its billions of unlikely circumstances have conspired to give us exactly what we have. Once you see this, certainly you want to help anyone struggling to have the same, yes?
The "End" of My Writing
If your eyes have managed to wander to this far, congratulations, you've made it to the end of my writing.
What I mean:
This "truth" - serving others as the greatest responsibility - is where all other roads appear to lead. After years of exploring my own mind, desires, emotions, impulses, needs - I ultimately have only two things to say:
- I'm good
- How about others?
Number two is why I am here - clumsily attempting to share and articulate in a way that might help people. I'm sure I miss the mark a lot. I'm sure I'm out in left field sometimes. But I know every time someone reaches out and says thanks for helping them feel relief, that's what it's all about. Similarly, when out in the real world, interacting with every friend and stranger offering them the same full attention, you can just feel it's what people need - to be heard, and comforted.
Simply listening, hearing, supporting. That's all.
If you haven't surmised by now, this "end" is metaphorical. Of course I'll continue to write and write, and remain fascinated until the very end making sense of this human experience - along with you. But I am sure that this is what it's all about - finding treasure in everyday experience and helping others do the same.