By coincidence I bumped into an old friend last night on the street and was really surprised to meet him. I live in Berlin and originally we’re both from a tiny, non-german, village far away.
He was on vacation and kind of stressed. Which was weird to me.
He explained to me that he’s only got 4 days to get all the sight-seeing done and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever make it to Berlin again, so he feels like he HAS to make the most out of those 4 days. Which meant little sleep and a lot of walking, a lot of taking pictures. He asked for insider recommendations regarding restaurants, bars and which museums were a waste of time.
When we parted ways, it hit me. Neither of us came up with the idea of having a drink and chatting about things, because his artificial busy-ness overshadowed the interaction.
It’s funny, because I do understand that he wants to make the most out of his time here and 4 days are not sufficient to get a decent grasp on any major metropolitan area. It got me thinking.
Why only 4 days? Why does he assume he’ll likely never come back? Why making the most out of vacation at all? If he likes it, why doesn’t he make it a priority, so that this one visit actually really is enough?
Because it’s a symptom. It’s a compromise. It’s what’s left. It’s his only option.
It’s a symptom of people living lives they don’t want to. They applied for something else, were in their own eyes unlucky and now they’re stuck in a sequence of compromises. They’re coping, getting by.
I’m self-employed and excited about my entrepreneurial adventures, so if I wanted to see some place, I’d dictate the time-frame, not someone else. You, being openminded enough to read my things, would probably do the same.
I don’t want to go into a huge rant about why society provokes such thinking and why my buddy doesn’t see through his insanity… I just want to highlight one idea:
The sort of agitating stress and pressure he felt to make the most out of his 4 day visit holds true for all of life. It’s just a different scale.
His time in Berlin was limited and so is his time on earth. So, in a way life on earth is a vacation as well:
A vacation from nothingness.
I don’t believe in gods and an afterlife. I have been a militant atheist a few years ago, now I’m just agnostic and focus on the psychological aspect of it, because I realized atheists are still in an extreme mindset, which can’t survive for too long. It might be a positive extreme, but it’s the same paradigm and not sustainable.
If I die, my consciousness, self-awareness, my ability to self-reflect, my mind, my being and my body just stop and it’s over. Done. No more being, just darkness and non-existence. It’s gonna be the same way it was before I was born. Where was I in 1783? Simple: I wasn’t there. I did not exist. I was non-existence. There was no consciousness that would have understood what was and will be.
So, because my buddy lacked purpose and education, he wasn’t able to translate this into a bigger picture: the way he approached his mini-retreat in Berlin is the way he should approach life.
And by that I mean not to be stressed out and rushing through it, but having a firm understanding that time here is limited and precious and you have to make the most out of the time given. There’s still room for relaxation, joy, fun, rewards and ease, but it’s more streamlined, more process- and journey-oriented. It’s not about numbing yourself with activity and experience either, there is simply more resilience towards time wasting bullshit like engaging in mainstream media. Your “mental hygiene” is an important element of life. You don’t allow others to make you feel bad, you don’t react to everything. You focus on the positive, because those frequencies are healthier for your organism. You grow and you thrive. You accept challenges and understand the inherent lessons in them. You don’t resist everything that scares you and is foreign. You go with the flow. You are hyper aware of the fact that every moment is a moment of your life, that once it is lived, is gone forever. It’s not like you get a second chance to re-do the bad moments. So, while there is rain in every life, a lot of it is just weak judgmentalism, lack of perspective, no mental hygiene, illusionary robbing of agency, reactiveness, feeling of impotence, victimization, lower conscious paradigms through which you filter the world and a lack of discipline to grow, evolve and thrive.
And because we as a society go deeper and deeper into a consumerism culture, that wants us to be melting, silently desperate zombies living from paycheck to paycheck and looking forward to the next iPhone release, we’re not supposed to look at it that way. We’re supposed to see the tree (make the most out of Berlin visit), but not supposed to see the forest (make the most out of life).
Right before we parted ways, I recommended visiting a nice mall, because it was close and there’s nothing like that mall back in our tiny home village. My friend answered, he already went there and it was “okay”, but he wasn’t “blown away”. And that’s the reaction he needs to have in order to function as another Average Joe.
Tony Robbins calls this being in a “frame of expectation” instead of being in a “frame of gratitude”. He approached that mall visit from the paradigm of “What can this mall do for me? Excite me! Stimulate me! Provide me with an exceptional experience! Give me a story I can brag with.”
He is basically asking “What’s in it for me?”, but in order to really enjoy that moment of walking through there, seeing the architecture, the different shops and buzzing microcosm of people, he should be asking “What’s in it for others?”. It’s what I have called the difference between a Me-VS-You-Mindset in many blogposts before. It’s a tremendously important mantra of growth for any man: first half of life = ME focus, second half of life = YOU focus.
–> Make yourself strong in order to make others strong.
Him being able to see that mall and experience its different elements is taken for granted and compared. A man in his prime and on his purpose does understand though, that nothing is for granted and most comparison is indoctrinated futility. He could be innocently rotting in some jail in Indonesia with broken legs and sleazy inmates molesting him. Nothing is for granted and that’s exactly why he is miserable AND a good consumer at the same time. He doesn’t appreciate a place for the simple sake of the idea that others might enjoy it. It’s only about him. He is still a child in demand. The world shall cater to his needs and bend for his joy.
That’s why in a blink from now he’ll be on his deathbed, clinging to life, begging for more, because he will feel he missed out. And he did.
Life is short. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and take us further towards wisdom. Because only wisdom can teach us gratitude. It’s not about the individual’s pursuit of happiness, it’s not about possessions, it’s about enjoying a journey that teaches you to give and be an appreciative server regardless of the feedback. Stephen Covey calls this the difference between primary and secondary greatness.
Life is vacation from nothingness.
Don’t go for secondary greatness.
Make the most out of that short vacation you were given arbitrarily by the universe.
Look at your penis and understand that it’s a penetrating and giving device. Everytime it gives (= ejaculates) there is no guarantee of fruitful feedback in return (= a newborn child). So, the lesson is to trust, give anyway and approach life accordingly (YOU focus). If you think it’s about receiving (ME focus), you’re just like my friend: a pussy ;-)
Life is vacation from nothingness.