I enjoy projects.
Meaning, I like to try something new, something I've never done before, which entails finding out what the thing is all about, how it works, what's necessary to do it, and then learning from my doing. I might find that I don't enjoy this new activity as much as I thought I would. Or, that it's even more satisfying than I expected.
For example, early in the summer I decided to try longboarding, skateboarding without the tricks, basically.
My longboarding has been the subject of various posts in a "skateboarding" section of my other blog.) I really enjoy this new life project. It's fun, great exercise, pleasingly challenging, and risky without being death-defying.
Much earlier in my life, graduating from college was a central project. Then, raising a child. LIke everybody, I had numerous projects going on at one time, such as "succeed at career," "stay healthy," "be a good husband and father."
Plus, for most of my life, "understand what life is all about." This was the spiritual side of me, the mystical side, the ultimate-reality revealing side.
I wanted to know.
Not just about something. About everything. I also wanted to be. Not just myself. But some form of all-pervading cosmic consciousness. These goals sound grandiose to me now. For many years, though -- over thirty-five -- they were my overarching life project.
Overarching, because religious, spiritual, and mystical pursuits often are viewed as the most important aspect in a practitioner's life. After all, they promise to transform life, perhaps along with a hypothesized afterlife, through salvation, enlightenment, self/god realization, or whatever other super-goal a person embraces.
I don't have that sort of project anymore. Sometimes this feels like a loss. Even after I entered my churchless phase (I began this blog in 2004), I kept on searching for a non-dogmatic path to higher truth and understanding.
I'd experiment with different meditation approaches, look into different philosophies, ponder different ways of looking upon ultimate reality. I still was attracted, maybe even addicted, to having a life project that was capable of transforming not just part of my life, but the whole damn thing.
It was kind of like one part of me was building a house, doing all the little things necessary to accomplish this, cutting wood, hammering nails, putting in plumbing, etc., while another part was looking for a way to live without a house -- or to live in a completely different sort of house.
For me, and I think this is a common flaw of overarching life projects, the end result was a split in my energy and attention. I didn't recognize this for most of the thirty-plus years I was focused on my Grand Spiritual Project That Would Completely Change Everything (GSPTWCCE).
But now that I've given up on that GSPTWCCE, I realize that simply living life is much more satisfying and wiser than living life at the same time as you're trying to find a whole different sort of life, a hypothesized enlightened life, god-realized life, or salvific (saved/redeemed) life.
Enjoying my longboard is good enough for me now. Maintaining our property is good enough for me now. Spending time with friends, family, and our dogs is good enough for me now. Blogging is good enough for me now.
In short, I'm content with having lots of little projects which comprise my life. What I do each day, what my goals are for each day, what gives meaning to me each day.
I'm no longer trying to make my life as a whole into something other than what it is. I don't feel a need for a Life Improvement Project that encompasses my entire life, just as I'm no longer interested in knowing what a supposed ultimate reality is which encompasses the entire cosmos.
I guess I now worship a god of small things.
Except I don't believe in god. Or that anything is really small. I get huge enjoyment from doing things I used to think were insignificant. Like reading the newest issue of People magazine in a hot bath while sipping a glass of red wine.
Ooh, great idea. Got to go...
"I get huge enjoyment from doing things I used to think were insignificant. Like reading the newest issue of People magazine in a hot bath while sipping a glass of red wine."
Elaborate on this and AARP magazine will publish it...with photos!
Posted by: cc | October 07, 2012 at 06:49 PM
cc, I'm insulted. Why didn't you say "newest issue of Playgirl magazine"?
Hey, i'm in great shape for a 64 year old. Actually, for most 24 year olds, given my observations of how fit lots of young people are.
But is there still a Playgirl magazine? That could be the flaw in this plan. The AARP magazine can be a backup.
Posted by: Brian Hines | October 07, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Tell me about it Bryan, relaxing in a hot bath feels great, I don't agree with the red wine part though lol.
Posted by: Gaz | October 08, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Playgirl magazine...that's the one that featured naked men in a Playboy format, supposedly a reaction by women demanding equality? I don't know if it's still around, but my understanding at the time was that it was more popular with gay men than with equality demanding women.
Don't worry. The AARP spread will be great.
Posted by: cc | October 08, 2012 at 09:33 AM