Sunday, July 9, 2017

What's It All About?

Remember the songs "What's It All About Alfie?" and "Is That All There Is?" In my humble opinion, based on my own life experiences, IT is about just FOUR simple things - personal freedom, love, happiness and peace.

So then, if a fulfilling life can be broken down to those four simple things, WHY DO WE ALL MAKE IT SO COMPLICATED? And, why do so many people live lives of quiet desperation, as Thoreau described it? Why do they leave this life unfulfilled, never realizing personal freedom, experiencing true love in its many forms, enjoying real happiness and joy and knowing the peace that all is well and they are safe and secure?

Why do they seek these things in bottles of alcohol, pills and junk they inject in their veins or snort up their noses? Why do they run to the shopping mall or go online to buy more stuff they don't really need, just to "feel better" for a moment's relief from the complexity and emotional/psychological pain of the life they've created by their own choices? Why don't they make some different choices and change their lives? I've been down some of these paths. Thankfully, not the alcohol or drug routes. But, only by the Grace of God, have I avoided those paths.

M. Scott Peck's first three words in his best-selling book, The Road Less Traveled, were, "Life is difficult." He goes on to elaborate, "This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know
that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

I sure don't know all the answers, but I've been fortunate enough to find a lot of them. I do my best to share them with anyone who is seeking the answers to "what it's all about." My life is far from perfect, just as I'm far from perfect. But, I've been able to experience some personal freedom, love in many forms, happiness and joy I never realized before and . . . the peace that comes with the other three.

What's Your Take?

What's it all about for you? Have you bitten into the apple and conformed to the world and what “they” think is right for you?

Who are “they.” I don't honestly know. They are a collective comprised of government, religion, education, commerce, family, neighbors, friends and others you choose (maybe not consciously) to allow to influence virtually every facet of your life.

Are they good or evil? Are they benevolent or malevolent? Yes . . . and No. It depends on how you perceive them and their influence over your life.

I believe for two brief instances during our lives, we are actually free. The first is when we are born, for a brief instant when the umbilical cord is cut and prior to being handed over to our parents. Unfortunately, we aren't capable, at that time, of realizing this freedom and exercising our own will. The second is during that brief instant just before we die. Unfortunately, once again, while we may have the knowledge, experience and skills to understand freedom, love, happiness and peace, we are not in a position to exercise them.

So, how is it that we spend our lives knowing, either consciously or subconsciously, that we were born to be personally free, to experience love in its many forms, to constantly reach out for happiness and joy and to seek the peace of feeling safe and secure in our own body and mind?

It's really quite simple. From the moment we are handed over to our parents (even adoptive parents) we begin a programmed indoctrination process. Our parents and families are the first phases of this ongoing process. As we grow older and our mind begins to mature, the indoctrination becomes more intense and complicated. In one form or another and by one label or another, this process continues through childhood, adolescence, adulthood and through our senior or golden years.

Of course, we need to learn how to socialize with other people in society. And, of course, there have to be rules, guidelines and laws to protect us from other people's aggression toward us and to prevent us from being aggressors of other people. This provides for order and civility in what could be a much more violent world, for, believe it or not, humans are the most violent species inhabiting this planet. Simply consider the weapons of mass destruction we've created and continue to improve while creating even more lethal weapons.

You are not supposed to be an aggressor. Well, not unless you enlist voluntarily or by conscription into a military organization. I'm a Vietnam era veteran. While I was never assigned to a combat position or to a battle zone, I was “indoctrinated” about our job in the military. If called upon, I was expected to maim and kill other people on orders from a superior ranking officer. These were people we were expected to kill, but through the indoctrination process, we changed their identity and label from people to enemies. They (and we) lost our humanity or were expected to, during military aggressive or defensive operations.

This is only one form of indoctrination. There are many other forms that come from religious organizations, educational institutions (at all levels) government agencies, our president, Congress and employers, from small businesses to huge multi-national corporations. Even where you live involves indoctrination. If you live in a rental property, you're indoctrinated to how you will live in that environment. If you purchase a home or condo, once again, the homeowners' association, city, county, state and federal government indoctrinate you about your rights and privileges on your own property. Even your neighbors place expectations on you to conform to.

The entire purpose of this continuous indoctrination process is to help you conform to “their” rules, guidelines and laws. The expectations are that you will accept all of these rules, guidelines and laws and won't rock the boat. There are all kinds of consequences and penalties if you choose to seek the personal freedom, love, happiness and peace you were born to experience.

I'm Not A Radical

No! I'm not a radical. I have grown and lived with the same indoctrination. I have dealt with all kinds of mixed messages. I have conformed, but felt that so much of conformity was denying me much or most of the personal freedom that would allow me to experience more forms of love, happiness and joy and the peace I felt my life was all about. Well, that last statement is stretching the point. It has taken me decades of fighting with my own inner conscience that somehow knew there was more to life than what I was indoctrinated to accept. The reality is, life is actually pretty simple. Civilization and society have created this extremely complicated world we live in.

There is no way I can explain all I have sought and learned during my life and continue to seek. I also can't say that I have found the answers for your life. I only know what I have been seeking and found (some of) through my own personal efforts, study and experiences. We each have choices, thousands and, perhaps millions, by the time we reach the final destination. And, in case you've never considered it, the final destination is the same for every human on this planet.

However, regardless of your indoctrination, religious faith, philosophy of life, etc. I contend when the question is asked, “What's it all about?” it's about just the four things I stated earlier in this article. It's all about personal freedom, love in its many forms, happiness and joy and the peace of knowing you've achieved those other three and you're safe and secure in your life. The saddest regret is when we're approaching our final destination, the end of life, and start asking the question, “Is that all there is?” It's sad how many people find themselves asking that question.

This is a very complex topic and, yet, in context, the four things I mentioned are really very simple. Until next time live free and be happy. EH


vtwinkicker said...

Billy Joel's song "shades of grey"

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Yep! He talks about a similar idea. Joel is a pretty philosophical song writer. The two songs I cited in my article were composed in the late 60s and made popular back then. Joel's song was from about 1989, about 20 years later. I know there are a lot of songs that explore these thoughts and philosophies. I'm sure we can go back to the ancient Greek philosophers, Buddha, other Eastern philosophies dating back thousands of years and find this a recurring topic.

Lois said...

Sure got a lot of food for thought in this post, Ed! I, too, have conformed for some of my adult life, but early on, I was a rebel, a rabble-rouser, a hippie, a drug addict and alcoholic. I couldn’t hold down a job to save my life, nor could I sustain a relationship for more than the blink of an eye. I totaled a vehicle every year (couldn’t keep one longer than about 11-1/2 months) and moved every year or so, my son never spending an entire school year in any one school until he hit middle school.

I didn’t straighten up my act until I was 28 when I got clean and sober, eventually got a job and went to night school, became a respectable government employee at 33, walked away from a horrible job situation at 55, and mostly have not looked back. My checkered adult life has led to an instability now that I could never have imagined, in more ways than I can articulate here.

The best song I can think of that explains it is the Grass Roots’ Let’s Live For Today (in part):

When I think of all the worries
That people seem to find
And how they're in a hurry
To complicate their minds
By chasing after money
And dreams that can't come true
I'm glad that we are different
We've better things to do
May others plan their future
I'm busy loving you

… Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
And don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
Live for today

And there you have it… what it’s all about for me. Living for today. I still have trouble planning for my future and I’m still more about loving the people I meet and have in my life, even though I’ve occasionally gotten side-tracked by my own personal crap of health, etc. At this stage of the game, I guess I’ll just keep on keepin’ on and live for today.