We view ambition and effort as admirable. So admirable that we push ourselves into a near constant state of fight or flight. Work hard, party hard.
Only when the T.V. and stereo are off do we notice our craving for distraction, the desperateness of our work ethic, of our struggle to improve the present moment.
If we are not working or planning for some future happiness, we work to squeeze the tits of the moment for titillations. Or reminisce.
It works. We need to work, and having fun is fun.
But the irony is that the work effort displaces us into a different time. It doesn’t appreciate the simplicity of unadorned moments.
The paradox is that the struggle for a good future keeps it forever at arms length.
Being “in” the moment is another paradox of intention. The effort to stop making effort. With one pointed fully engaged attention, letting go of focus and distraction. One pointedly non-pointed. Bristling with engaged relaxation, such that moments can arise fresh and free, distinct, like a slap in the face. Or like the confusion of clock-radio music entering and mixing with early morning dreams, in that moment before certainty of what is interior or exterior; experience free of context and becoming into context, vibrant and participatory as it does so.
Being in the moment is endlessly variable and sublime. The present moment has depth and width. Depth is clarity; immediacy that does not rely on context; vividness that is not built from concept. Not even the concept of interior and exterior. Width is vastness of experience and connections.
The simple pleasure of being. The work effort never takes us to it.
This is why I don’t believe in the American dream.
We have a hierarchy of needs. Food and shelter are primary. Once fed and safe, we want sex, and then social esteem. And there, for the American dream, it seems to end. Security and status become a black hole for our attention, sucking in our effort. We are a culture of wage slaves, slaves to increasing our level of luxury and social position.
It is easier to be happy, content, fulfilled and in the flow when we are not fixating on our basic needs. Giving these the least necessary attention can free up a lot of life force for living life.