If you’ve ever struggled with the seemingly futile effort of heading off to work at the office or factory you will identify with this post I hope.
Why am I doing this?
How did I end up like this?
Why don’t I have any time for myself?
What could I do for a living or a vocation that would make my life happier and more fulfilled and even if I could think of something how can I get from where I am now to where I want to go?
Even if I could find the courage to do this, what could I do that’s of any importance?
Is it too late for me to be a Rock Star, Film Actor or the President of the USA?
The trouble with this thinking and the reason why almost nobody takes total control of their life is that we over estimate our own importance and that of our occupation or vocation.
However, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much about this because not only does everybody else do this as well, but I think we also attach too much importance to everybody else’s vocation/occupation/skill.
We are all going to die some day and how important will it all be to us then?
Regardless of our beliefs or persuasions we are, figuratively speaking on a “Stairway to Heaven”.
Now isn’t that a seminal track in rock and roll history?; Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. This song is lauded as a classic and somehow stands up there as a pinnacle of excellence for us all to aspire to.
Then I come along as a (very) amateur, learner guitarist and I can rattle out an instrumental version that’s recognisable as Stairway to Heaven within a little less than a week! (by the way, I did this by following the rules I made for myself, discussed here.
Deciding which version is the best of course is fairly easy; after all the Zeps came up with the idea and that speaks volumes for their creative talent.
However, reframe the question to: whose version is most important? and again the answer at first seems straight forward; lets face it, my amateur, miss-fingered and out of time version couldn’t exist without the to work from, so clearly it’s the Zeps again for this one…or is it?
To me, my version is very important at the moment I am playing and trying to improve it.
What do you think Miss Given?
But in reality none of them are important in any way? Masterpiece or not, spending your time writing, recording and performing rock classics is trivial.
Take a different tack and consider this:
Who is more important, the President of the United States or the guy who fills your car up with fuel?
Bruce Springsteen or Miley Cyrus? Lots of young(er) people would argue against me on this one…who’s right?…answer…nobody, although I did once see a fan holding up a banner at a Brooooce gig proclaiming “I love you more than Hanna Montana!” Bruce seemed chuffed about that…who wouldn’t?
By the way, on meeting Bruce Springsteen, Barack Obama stated publicly “I might be the President, but he’s The Boss”. Yes even from a man who has made it to the very pinnacle of his chosen path we maybe see a tiny glint of regret that he isn’t actually an acclaimed musician instead! And who could forget (or keep their lunch down) when Tony Blair appeared on TV with a Fender Strat strapped onto him?
Brain Surgeon or Car Mechanic? Now I am not trying to be contentious or inflammatory here, but every person who has brain surgery will die some time later, it’s not a permanent fix. Likewise, brain surgeons end up dying just like the rest of us. Fixing broken humans on the face of it is more important than fixing broken cars, but spending your life doing something you love regardless of how trivial it is when stacked up against other vocations is the single most important thing for any of us.
In Masanobu Fukuoka’s book “The One Straw Revolution” he explains how he came to the conclusion that Humans Know Nothing, well at least nothing of any significance about the world. The thought that we can influence or control nature was absurd in Fukuoka’s mind and at the centre of this folly is the thought that we, as humans, are somehow superior to other life forms or in charge here!
Even the greatest of our engineering and scientific endeavours are miniscule when thought of in universal, space-time terms. However, we might succeed in hastening our own demise through some of it, which will probably be a good thing for the rest of the planet’s inhabitants at least.
In this year’s Idler, editor Tom Hodgkinson asks Bill Drummond “is there any point in doing anything”? Drummond’s answer is that yes there is, but only if it’s what makes you tick, what makes you feel in touch with the world and yourself. It doesn’t matter a jot if it’s trivial to everyone else.
I think the conclusion to be drawn here is that we are all pretty trivial. Our little lives are insignificant in the big universal scheme of things. I will expand on this theme in an article about my experiences with meditation soon, but isn’t our own mental and spiritual (however you define that) well being the most important thing to aim for? After all if we are screwed up we can’t help anyone else. But there really is nothing out there worth getting screwed up about in my humble opinion.
If my way to achieving that mental and spiritual well being is sharpening match sticks all day long, am I any less important than the brain surgeon?
Is anything important? Is there any point in doing anything? Aren’t we all just going to die anyway?
Living your life following your own trivial pursuits, regardless of how important or otherwise they are to anyone else, is to my mind the most important thing.
Isn’t that a sure fire way to enjoy your journey up your own particular Stairway to your own particular Heaven?