We seem to live like the butterfly… only touching everything it its flight and then it dies. Surface living.
Never and no one looks long enough to see what is the root cause of any trouble, we, like the butterfly, only look at what is readily visible…
One of the things my readers SEEM TO want to fix is a meaningless life. Maybe their life is too busy, maybe it is not busy enough, maybe they only have time to do what they must do, and on their days off they lounge and bemoan their life.
But all in all: their life is not theirs, and it feels meaningless. Empty of meaning, empty of importance, empty of essence, joy and adventure.
And it probably is!
So they try this and they try that, they do one of my classes… but…
…but in a month or two they return to where they were… heavy, sluggish, stopped soaring, stopped aspiring.
What they are missing is the stuff that gives meaning to life. And their life will remain empty as long as they are still missing it.
I am reading Ayn Rand’s famous novel, The Fountainhead for the third or fourth time.
Every time I read it, the book seems to highlight different things for me, different incidents…
This time the highlight is how the divine (the Spirit) gets through to you to provide you with guidance, substance to your life, for a lifetime. The divine spark, the divine spirit, the essence of being human… When the divine doesn’t spark, when the spirit doesn’t stir… that is when your life feels meaningless.
I have been weakened by some stomach bug that makes all manner of eating distasteful to me, so I haven’t eaten for two days, and I am increasingly weak with an undercurrent of depression… I am also weepier than normal.
So here I am sitting, trying to get some work done, recalling the incident in The Fountainhead, where Mike the electrician and Roark, the main character of the novel, first meet. Their lifelong friendship begins in that incident… with Roark demonstrating what he values.
Roark liked the days when he was sent out to inspect buildings in construction. He walked through the steel hulks of buildings more naturally than on pavements. The workers observed with curiosity that he walked on narrow planks, on naked beams hanging over empty space, as easily as the best of them.
It was a day in March, and the sky was a faint green with the first hint of spring. In Central Park, five hundred feet below, the earth caught the tone of the sky in a shade of brown that promised to become green, and the lakes lay like splinters of glass under the cobwebs of bare branches. Roark walked through the shell of what was to be a gigantic apartment hotel, and stopped before an electrician at work.
The man was toiling assiduously, bending conduits around a beam. It was a task for hours of strain and patience, in a space overfilled against all calculations. Roark stood, his hands in his pockets, watching the man’s slow, painful progress.
The man raised his head and turned to him abruptly. He had a big head and a face so ugly that it became fascinating; it was neither old nor flabby, but it was creased in deep gashes and the powerful jowls drooped like a bulldog’s; the eyes were startling—wide, round and china-blue.
‘Well?’ the man asked angrily, What’s the matter, Bricktop?’
‘You’re wasting your time,’ said Roark.
‘You don’t say!’
‘It will take you hours to get your pipes around that beam.’
‘Know a better way to do it?’
‘Run along, punk. We don’t like college smarties around here.’
‘Cut a hole through the beam.’
‘The hell I will!’
‘The hell you won’t.’
‘It ain’t done that way.’
‘I’ve done it.’
‘It’s done everywhere.’
‘It ain’t gonna be done here. Not by me.’
‘Then I’ll do it for you.’
The man roared. ‘That’s rich! When did office boys learn to do a man’s work?’
‘Give me your torch.’
‘Look out, boy! It’ll burn your pretty pink toes!’
Roark took the man’s gloves and goggles, took the acetylene torch, knelt, and sent a thin jet of blue fire at the center of the beam. The man stood watching him. Roark’s arm was steady, holding the tense, hissing streak of flame in leash, shuddering faintly with its violence, but holding it aimed straight. There was no strain, no effort in the easy posture of his body, only in his arm. And it seemed as if the blue tension eating slowly through metal came not from the flame but from the hand holding it.
He finished, put the torch down, and rose.
‘Jesus!’ said the electrician. ‘Do you know how to handle a torch!’
‘Looks like it, doesn’t it?’ He removed the gloves, the goggles, and handed them back. ‘Do it that way from now on. Tell the foreman I said so.’
The electrician was staring reverently at the neat hole cut through the beam. He muttered: ‘Where did you learn to handle it like that, Red?’
Roark’s slow, amused smile acknowledged this concession of victory.
‘Oh, I’ve been an electrician, and a plumber, and a rivet catcher, and many other things.’
‘And went to school besides?’
‘Well, in a way.’
‘Gonna be an architect?’
‘Well, you’ll be the first one that knows something besides pretty pictures and tea parties. You should see the teacher’s pets they send us down from the office.’
‘If you’re apologizing, don’t. I don’t like them either. Go back to the pipes. So long.’
‘So long, Red.’
The next time Roark appeared on that job, the blue-eyed electrician waved to him from afar, and called him over, and asked advice about his work which he did not need; he stated that his name was Mike and that he had missed Roark for several days. On the next visit the day shift was leaving, and Mike waited outside for Roark to finish the inspection. ‘How about a glass of beer, Red?’ he invited, when Roark came out. ‘Sure,’ said Roark, ‘thanks.’
They sat together at a table in the corner of a basement speak-easy, and they drank beer, and Mike related his favorite tale of how he had fallen five stories when a scaffolding gave way under him, how he had broken three ribs but lived to tell it, and Roark spoke of his days in the building trades. Mike did have a real name, which was Sean Xavier Donnigan, but everyone had forgotten it long ago; he owned a set of tools and an ancient Ford, and existed for the sole purpose of traveling around the country from one big construction job to another. People meant very little to Mike, but their performance a great deal.
Mike worshiped expertness of any kind. He loved his work passionately and had no tolerance for anything save for other single-track devotions. He was a master in his own field and he felt no sympathy except for mastery. His view of the world was simple: there were the able and there were the incompetent; he was not concerned with the latter. He loved buildings. He despised, however, all architects.
When you look around you, when you look at your own work, you rarely, if EVER, find expertness, or even competence. When I muscle test competence is 10% mastering the skill. Expertise is 20% mastering the skill. Excellence is above 30%… not including 30%.
If you worship expertness, like Mike, you learn to despise most people. If you don’t: you learn to despise experts.
You learn to despise experts.
Why is that? Because it is human nature to measure yourself in comparison. And hate everyone who makes you fall short.
No exceptions. People have hated their betters since the beginning of time.
And while becoming an expert is the route to self-esteem that is earned, mighty few people go that route… They want the admiration of other people… unearned.
Of course, looking in the mirror is painful. Because even if everyone is a fraud or a slacker around you, you know that you are full of hot air… and you hate yourself.
That is the bottom line. You cannot have a life you love if you have a reason to hate yourself, to despise yourself.
So what is the solution to this emptiness, to this self-hate?
To find the solution we need to go deeper in what is the problem.
When I look, the problem is cultural. Depending what family, neighborhood, etc. you grew up in, your worldview is dramatically different from people from a different culture… except one thing: every culture living on the planet promotes living in your mind. Paying attention to what thoughts you have, not what you feel.
Feelings are your primary guidance system, your primary gps, yet, when I observe people, most don’t feel a thing… or if they do, they instantly name it, and then suddenly they don’t feel what they feel, they have the word to interact with.
This is where the Indian gurus, Osho and Krishnamurti are actually accurate, except they never say it… I guess the gurus they learned from didn’t say it either.
The say when you look at a sunset, a rose, don’t name it… and of course not naming it will make it invisible… But the case with feelings is different: you’ll feel it, even if you don’t have a word for it… animals do… and we are animals basically.
So the solution is to get back to feelings and feel them. It may take a while to disengage from the words, but it’s possible, I’ve done it, and I am not alone with it.
And then, the feelings can act as nature intended it: as guidance.
In my next Saturday webinar, on July 3, I’ll teach it and this also gives you enough time to practice. To keep you busy in the interim, I am almost-gifting my previous feel your feelings course, it is an additional 10 bucks.
And I’ll give you goodies beyond if you register early. Wait till the last day? no goodies for you. I can hear Borat’s voice in my head… lol.
Come to the July 3 Feelings webinar
When you start living in your body instead of your head, you’ll get invaluable guidance through feelings… all of humans 99.93% has abandoned and can’t benefit from.
Don’t hesitate. You risk a few hours and you have a whole life to gain.