I travelled to lots of amazing places, met so many amazing people, lived so many amazing lives. And after all that living, I still think life is fundamentally boring.
Many people find such a statement blasphemous. After all, life is a gift. Life is short. Look at all the people in the world who would give their right arm to have a life like mine. One free of war and famine. One where you can post something like ‘life is boring’ on the internet and not worry that the police are about to come knocking.
I know all this. And I am grateful, I promise.
The point I’m making is not quite as defamatory about the miracle of life as it might initially sound.
What I’m saying is you can’t look to life to get your kicks. Having ‘experiences’ in the hope of sewing enough of them together to create a ‘fun life’ is not the path to happiness. A life worthy of a Facebook account (“Did this! Ate that! Went there! With them!!!”) is not going to give you what you’re looking for.
This is why I always end up back with Buddhist practice. It doesn’t have to be Buddhist practice. It could be god, the tao, or anything that doesn’t require a whole pile of never-ending sense experience in ever-increasing quantities to maintain it.
Eckhart Tolle says something like “You can never win on the level of content.”
What he means is that whilever you look to fill your life with content in a bid for happiness, significance and meaning, you will inevitably fail. You’re playing the wrong game.
So here’s my current thinking:
Do whatever it is you do. And enjoy the process. Let it unfold, arise, pass away. Engage with it fully, and when it is gone, let it go. “Kiss the joy as it flies” to quote, er, Blake I think:
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise
(I feel a strong urge to write a new stanza with ‘she’ instead of he for the sake of completeness. But you have to let these old patriarchs off I guess. It was a different time.)
Buddhist practice is well-placed as a training to be able to pull this off. To enjoy the present moment, and to appreciate, or at least be present and open for, that which you don’t enjoy.
This is the way to a happy life. When we don’t need things to be a particular way, we are free.