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.