Life is Not a Journey.
Thank you to Alan Watts who wrote this (excerpted) as a reminder that a momentous life is full of moments. It’s not all about the destination or exit. A good reminder on my 60th birthday when I was originally supposed to be at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, a place Watts called his “om away from home” for many years.
“The existence, the physical universe is basically playful.
There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. That is to say, it doesn’t have some destination that it ought to arrive at.
It is best understood by the analogy with music. Because music, as an art form, is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano.” You don’t “work the piano.”
Why? Music differs from say, travel. When you travel you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t dwell on the end of a composition.
If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… Because that’s the end!
Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance.
But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our everyday conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression.
It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty, kitty.”
And you go onto kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade. Then, “come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you’ve got high school.
It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college…Then, you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world.
Then, you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for.
Then, you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.
Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community.
Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line.
We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.
But we missed the point the whole way along.
It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.”
“Once in a blue moon” a day like today comes along. Our second full moon in the month of October. I’m gonna be howling with the wolves tonight and dancing under the stars celebrating my 60 revolutions. Maybe as we grow up, we become “revolutionaries?” How can you make today “momentous?”
Now, I’m gonna listen to some Van Morrison “Moondance.”
Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
And all the night's magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush...