As I've done in previous posts, here's an email interchange I had recently with someone who visits this blog regularly and likes to share ideas with me.
Yes, giving up the feeling of being special is indeed a relief. As you’re probably aware, I’ve written about this from the perspective of index investing. Trying to beat the markets both takes a lot of work and has been proven to usually be a waste of time, since investors typically buy high and sell low, rather than the reverse.
THE OTHER PERSON REPLIED:
Hi Brian, thanks for writing. I really like that last paragraph. “Unless God is that nothing, in which case I’m decidedly enlightened”. Awesome.
I really enjoyed the post, Here’s a positive sign of my (mini) enlightenment.
And I can totally relate to much of it.
This part really got me thinking:
“But now I've come to feel something different, and seemingly more attainable. I simply want to be as fully aware as possible of whatever it is I'm doing until I take my last breath. What that whatever is doesn't matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.”
I was thinking about something sort of similar recently. I was listening to someone talk about things they want to do before they die. Like the bucket list you mentioned. This person happened to be a Christian, so the list consisted of things they believed God wanted them to do, and some of their own desires.
Funny how those are separate. And they felt like if they didn’t accomplish the God stuff, they wouldn’t get their full reward and all that. Sounds exhausting! But I get it. I used to think the same way.
I’ve noticed that, after practicing mindfulness to varying degrees for the last few years, that I don’t really have a list of things I want to do, anymore. I’m mostly content to live day to day. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a few things I’d like to do in the near future, but they aren’t things that are on an important list.
Even if I did have a list of cool stuff, and was able to do most or all of them, the memories and emotions tend to fade pretty quickly. Especially when living mindfully. I was kind of laughing thinking that when we die, assuming there is nothing after all this, we won’t remember any of the cool stuff because… well, we will be dead. LOL
And if there is some kind of afterlife that’s anything like what people think, it will probably be cooler than the cool stuff we did here, so the stuff we did here will pale in comparison.
I don’t know if this sounds nihilistic or not, but I don’t think of it that way. It doesn’t mean that I don’t plan fun activities. Like this summer, my wife and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage and we will go to Florida for a week. I’m sure it will be great. But I’m not driven to cram in as much stuff into my life as I can before I die. It just seems more relaxing that way.
I’ve noticed something interesting going on with me. I don’t have any atheist friends. And I only have a couple of friends who would probably be considered agnostic. I’m finding myself feeling, I guess lonely, for lack of a better word. I know for a fact that is why many people go to church. It’s part of their social life.
Christianity is so prevalent in this part of the country that it permeates everything. So it kind of changes how people view the world and life. I know my views on most things have changed drastically since I left religion behind.
I was meditating with a Buddhist friend on Sunday mornings for a while and we had some really good conversations after our meditation time. But we stopped meditating because his schedule changed. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed being able to talk to someone about my current views without judgment until recently.
So I find myself reading blogs and listening to podcasts. Not really to learn something new, but I guess it’s that human need to hear other people say things similar to what I believe. It’s interesting to hear people talk about going from a religious life to an atheist life. Lots of similarities in their stories. I guess that kind of makes me feel not as alone as well.
I hope you and yours are well.
Talk to you again soon.