Those Who Do Not


The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. – Alan Watts 

I am 47 years old.  I have never been married, had children or owned a home.  My official collegiate career lasted exactly two weeks before I withdrew from classes and farted around Rutgers Campus for the better part of a decade pretending to be a student.  None of my paltry net worth is invested in retirement plans, 401Ks or interest-bearing accounts, virtually ensuring that if I live to an advanced age, I will still be working and/or homeless.  

What talents I do possess, I am content to employ purely in the interest of entertaining myself.  My diet consists mainly of pre-packaged garbage, I rarely exercise and I smoke like a house on fire.  To the dismay of those who feel that vices are something to overcome if not eschew entirely, I also have no plans to eat healthier, exercise more or quit smoking, nor do I admonish myself for these habits.  

I might die in 40 years or I might die tomorrow.  It really makes no difference.  Having felt this mysterious energy we call life animating my rented corpse for even one moment will have made it all worthwhile.  That’s right, all of it: the disappointments, failures, rejections, depression, alcoholism, aches, pains, boredom, loss, tragedy – in the end, none of it was necessarily bad or good, but it was all a part of conscious experience, the most unfathomable mystery there is by virtue of the fact that it’s the only real mystery there is. 

If it ever sounds as though I’m celebrating someone else’s achievement, this is only because I’m pleased to witness the momentary happiness of another person regardless of the catalyst.  Fuck the achievement, it’s just an illusion.  Beyond emerging from a birth canal at the starting line, there is nothing else to achieve. 

The effort I put into writing this post that you’re reading was negligible, even for me.  I suppose if the effort had been greater, the very message would have been rendered oxymoronic.  But so what if it had? 

Despite everything I just said, those who have the wherewithal to pursue a career, a family, or any sort of successful self-improvement regimen are not necessarily fools.  If any of those things facilitate genuine happiness for someone, the only foolish thing he or she could possibly do is neglect their pursuit.  I concede to possessing a lion’s share of laziness, but I don’t apologize for it.  The secret to a contented life is not laziness or ambition; it is simply to remove the goalposts from the playing field.  Without goals or a sense of obligation to “achieve”, the playful and gloriously frivolous nature of our existence is at the heart of every action – or inaction – that we can possibly take.  If this is your mindset, you understand that life is its own reward and have reached the end of neurosis.  Enjoy. Just be sure not to view it as an achievement.

21 thoughts on “Those Who Do Not

  1. The only reason I quit smoking and switched to vaping was because of the money. If a pack of Pall Mall still only set me back $1.50 instead of $6.00, I’d be right with you, puffing away.
    Great post. If my brain wasn’t so muddled today, I’d have more to say about it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the compliment. I do get it.
        Fibromyalgia is a shitty, stupid asshatt of a disease that often messes with the things in my brain that allows me to have deep thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. People get caught up too much in the external success markers in life, yeah?
    I’m just trying to regulate myself to dopamine-releasing activities that don’t result in long-term complications.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve gotten that impression from what you’ve shared on your page and I applaud and admire you for it. I mean no offense by this to any of my local friends in recovery, but if any of them were even a fraction as open to interesting ideas as you, I’d still be going to meetings with regularity.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s the quintessence of the dharma. Allowing the river to be and not attempt to divert its flow. I think I read something like that years ago. Ancient Chinese wisdom. Lao Tsu? Maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Goddamn, I needed to hear this today.
    I woke up with the gremlins in my head insisting that if my body was shaped differently (aka met the societal standard for beauty), my problems would go away. I have a lifetime of experience reshaping my body to know that’s absurd. But the little fuckers are still chattering away.
    I’ll be reading this post again and again. Good shit.
    Also, I loved your suggestion for National Fart On Your Boss Day! Except then I remembered I’m self-employed. Shit’s gonna get weird!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Glad to have been of service…well, other than the self-employment conundrum. Feel free to replace “Boss” with whoever in your life is most deserving of being honored thusly.


  5. I loved the shit out of this post, Paul!! Like, so much. It is honest, funny, and so fucking profound. And it really got me thinking. We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve, that we forget how to simply ‘be’. What a gift that is in itself. To have survived another day unscathed and alive should be enough. I am dreamer, but my dream is to exist in a place where I no longer yearn to be somewhere else, and where I am content. My goal posts are still up, but I can’t wait to take them down. Amazing, Paul. Really. Just bloody fantastic!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tanya! But of all the people who read my stuff, you arguably needed to hear this message the least. I have dreams, too, and I realize that they may or may not materialize. But your dreams, as you’ve described them in your posts and to me, are not prompted by societal pressure — in fact, they fly in the face of societal pressure. I genuinely admire the hell out of your outlook. It’s so inspiring.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Honestly, you have no idea what a huge compliment I consider those words from you to be. It means a whole lot. I am definitely doing what I am doing because for the first time in my life I am being me, and am embracing who I am. So thank you for saying that. Your perspective, though, is something I didn’t know I needed in my life, until I found it. And I am so thankful I did. You keep this crazy gal in-check, and make me see things in an entirely different way. YOU HURT MY BRAIN, PAUL!! And I absolutely love it! Thank YOU, for being so damn awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Paul. I needed this. In raising a child the temptation is to instill in him a desire to achieve, but when I stop and think about it, I couldn’t be doing him more of a disservice. He enjoys life without goal posts already; he should be the one teaching me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy belated Mothers Day, Lisa! He is teaching you, but of course, it’s symbiotic and what you teach him is vital. I think you’ve always had a great balance of responsibility and frivolity, mental stability and a sense of adventure, so while you do understand the importance of enjoying it all, you also understand that in order to sustain that quality of life for both you and your son for any length of time, you both kind of need to be, you know, alive and eating and sheltered.


      1. Thank you! And yes, that is very true. But I think his desire to achieve will occur naturally when he takes a real interest in something on his own. I mean, it’s not like he will go through life without any passion for anything. Sometimes I forget that it doesn’t need to be taught.
        I love that everyone who reads this will find their own personal message. That’s some fine writing, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

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