The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Recently, I read this quote and I’ve been reeling from it ever since. It was as though someone took a giant microscope and placed it over my life. For the first time, I could see everything perfectly clearly. I could see the big picture and… I was horrified.
This: He sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. It reverberated over & over in my mind like I was between two gongs and someone was slamming them both with the force of a freight train. Dramatic imagery, I know, but that’s how it felt. My reaction was visceral like I was kicked in the stomach.
I had this reaction because it was like everything that I thought I “knew” was turned upside down and shook empty like a jar of pennies. See, I’ve been teaching about “Creating the Life of Your Dreams” for awhile now. I had even convinced myself, that I was creating the life of my own dreams. I thought I’d done a pretty good job of ignoring societies rules and living by my own. But then I read the Dalai Lama quote and everything came crumbling down around me.
The Truth, Light
I’ve been living with the wool half pulled over my eyes. Yes, I was creating the life of my dreams—but only marginally! I created this site. I started life-coaching & motivational speaking. I was living my passions. But I was still worshiping the almighty dollar and as many times as I said, “I don’t care what other people think…” I still cared what other people thought!
I wasn’t intentionally lying (to myself or to others). I was in the dark, unaware.
When I read the Dalai Lama quote it was like a light bulb went on after a long time in the darkness. I could finally see. What did I see? Here is a short story that I read a few years ago. Of course it stuck with me then, but somehow I let its wisdom slip away.
The Fisherman and the Businessman
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village. As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish. The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman. “I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with your kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman smiled.
Icing on the cake. Straw that broke the camel’s back. And all that jazz.
As if I was not already completely over the edge about all of this, then my co-worker was listening to Howard Stern yesterday and I overheard this: Jobs that require sitting increase risk of death regardless of diet/exercise.
Since college, I’ve spent my life sitting at a desk working on a computer. I spent three years chained to sitting at a desk, responding to emails, and fighting sleep listening in on conference calls. And then, I started blogging/speaking/coaching (which I am so passionate about) but still sitting at a desk staring at my MacBook 99% of the time.
Fact Vs. Excuse
It just really hit me that the reason that I do all of this is because I feel like I should or I have to and it’s all a complete load of bullocks. Right now I work in an office Monday – Thursday, 9 – 5. I life coach whenever possible, typically before 8 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. I tutor on Mondays & Thursdays after my office job. And I take every motivational speaking gig that’s offered to me (paying or not).
I am running around like a hamster going nowhere on a wheel—exactly what I tell everyone NOT to do—all because I think I have to. Why do I think I have to? Because I am confusing excuses with facts. And there is one fact excuse that keeps popping up over & over: I HAVE TO PAY MY BILLS.
I have to pay bills. REALITY: IT’S AN EXCUSE, NOT A FACT. I don’t need my car, my clothes, my cell phone, my Internet connection, or half of the other crap that I spend my money on. My credit score doesn’t matter all that much either. Despite the fact that it’s great right now, I’d get along just fine even if it wasn’t so great. If I stopped paying my bills, I wouldn’t have all that much trouble finding food & shelter or continuing to LIVE. IF I STOPPED PAYING MY BILLS, IT WOULDN’T KILL ME. Also, I would probably wind up with a lot less useless crap that I don’t really need!
I Know Where I’m Going
And so now that I’ve gone off on a quite a rant, I have to tell you that I can’t wrap all of this up in a nice, little package with a pretty pink bow on top. I don’t know the answer yet, but… I’m getting closer. What I do know is this.
- I do not want to spend the rest of my life sitting behind a desk. I love blogging, coaching, and speaking; but I’m going to have to be more creative with my medium. My passion is creating positive change in people’s lives and there are ways to do it away from the computer. (For example, I love working with children & I’ve honestly always dreamed of becoming a nanny.)
- The desk job thing isn’t going to cut it for me. Yes, at the moment there are bills with my name on them, but using those bills as an excuse to do stuff that I hate isn’t going to fly anymore.
- And finally. I am going to stop giving a damn what other people think—Right now. I value constructive criticism immensely. I welcome opinions, discussion, and insight with open arms. But, my life is not the Hotel California. You can check out anytime you like and you can always leave..
To close this, I’ll quote my hero (who—as I’m sure you’ve noticed—I never get sick of). Enter Tyler Durden, “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fuc*ing khakis.”
In love & light,