“. . . the only interesting people are interested people, and to be completely interested is to have forgotten about “I”.” -Watts
Like with everything else I’ve done in life, “Just Do It.” I didn’t read the instruction book before slaying Star Fox 64, or Legend of Zelda. I didn’t read a novel about soccer before playing a soccer game. I showed up, got on the field, and played. And I got better each time. Learning patience through confidence in my ability as a player.
When I am overthinking it, I’m out of the game. Early in the game, I’m a bit too perfectionist about the podcast, record, figure it out, publish. Funny enough, the least produced podcasts and articles I’ve published have been the best received.
This is not to say that preparation is worthless:
“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech. ” -Mark Twain
It’s to say that at some point, after all the thinking, reading, preparation, studying, and training, it’s time to launch. At some point, you have to just say “F it, it’s go time, baby!”
If you’re thinking about travel, book the ticket. If you have been talking about a blog, vlog, painting, dating, working out, or training it’s go time. The moment you decide an immense amount of freedom opens. The switch from consumer to producer. From academic to artist. From theorist to practitioner.
Hit publish, share, or record and watch all the nonsense fade away. The tension and nervousness will fade away like the illusion it was.
Just do it. And know that when you’re doing it, the more flexible, real and human, the better.
II. Self Love
Is it possible to self-love if behind it all there is no ‘Self’ to love?
Is loving yourself code for “I’m unhappy with myself so I am pursuing happiness, self-love, within a self I can’t seem to find?”
Have you ever noticed that the people who seek to cure their boredom are the most bored? That the people who advertise the loudest about their health are the least healthy? The ones who signal virtue lack virtue? And so it follows, the ones who are most obsessed with loving themselves are getting self love are the ones who love themselves the least.
If there is no Self to love then a process of self love is a cycle without end. Pursuing self love to cure a lack of happiness is like a dog chasing it’s tail, or the donkey chasing the carrot. It will always be out of reach.
Maybe, then, it’s better to have faith in ourselves. Real faith. Like, the type of faith you have when you jump off a ledge into the water below. The type of faith you have when you book your ticket to a faraway place.
The type of faith that requires letting go.
If we let go of ourselves we let go of a feeling of separation. If we are unhappy with ourselves, it’s to say that we view a self that is separate from love. A self that has a deficit of love, so it must need more. And it will get more; More pain.
“He Let Himself Go.”
That’s what we say when our newly gravity-challenged friends walk in. In the years that passed between the last encounter and now, he has let himself go outward in every direction. The only inward direction was the absorption of poor dietary decisions leading to a slug fest against the body.
But, what exactly did he let go of? Did he really let himself go?
What part of the self left? What self was let go of that became a regular at McDonald’s? What part left and went to the candy store and never returned?
What if it wasn’t that he let himself go, but that it was the reverse? He was clinging to an idea of self, comfort-eating away a past trauma, and clung to the back of the Labrador brain now seeking material pleasure in the form of food, sensations and forms.
Letting go to love
“If you truly love something, let it go.” Same for ourselves. The idea of smothering ourselves with self love is akin to a mother smothering her child with years of hawk eyed vigilance. Impressing upon the child the mother’s strict idea of the way the child should live – holding them in place – will only repress the child’s freedom.
Whether it’s rebelling with partying in college, turning to drugs for release, or running away from home, eventually the pendulum will swing the opposite way.
If you love yourself you will never be alone.
To love ourselves is to let go of our idea of self. To let self go. To accept it as it is: Whole, connected, and part of something incomprehensibly greater.
“To know God, man must give up himself. There is no I to surrender.” -Alan Watts
To love yourself, let go of yourself.
III. Masks, Growth and Contrast
Being able to see through another’s mask because I once wore the same one. I wanted to take it off but forgot where the mask ended and where my face began. Seeing in the eyes of another the trance of illusion. A familiar whirlpool like the snake in Jungle Book. When I was wearing a mask I was playing a role. It’s much more difficult task to be yourself because that means asking the most challenging question of all:
Who am I?
What am I? To ask this question is to face the void of the unknown. The deep space. The abyss. We cannot see into a black hole but we could feel its pull. It’s easier to be on the sunny surface floating above the abyss while throwing a boat party.
The depths, the questions, lead to insignificance. Stepping into the depths brings us to face our ego, eager to cast us away from our questioning: “You’re a coward! Turn back!” “Right. I’m a coward. I’m not worthy. Let’s turn back.”
Remember that the Lion wondering who he is is the coward.
Maybe life is about about forgetting the mask and the depths, throwing our hands up and going for a ride before it’s all past.
Because, everybody wear the mask but how long will it last?