For almost as far as I can remember, I have on and off perceived life and living as something that I was forced to do, as a burden. There has also been times when I did not have this experience, because what I was doing was self-directed and self-created, but those experiences has been far and few between.
And when I for once had the opportunity to ‘opt out’, ‘play hooky’ and ‘check out’ for a longer period than a couple of hours or a day, I grabbed it, for example when being sick. I threw myself into this ‘break from the burden of life’ and spent the next few weeks doing as little as absolutely possible. Mostly I laid on the couch or the bed, sleeping or watching TV. I didn’t however commit so completely to this that it was just a purely positive experience. I felt constant guilt for not moving, for not doing things, for not getting things done, for letting others do the work for me.
After almost two weeks I started getting very frustrated with myself and I had come to this point of feeling like I cannot move myself, even though I know in self-honesty that I can and that I have induced myself into this state of lethargy and listlessness.
So I started asking myself the following question: With who I am, as who I want to be, why have I accepted and allowed myself to go into this state? It doesn’t match with who I want to be, with the things I want to achieve in life, with the example I want to stand as. And as I looked back on my life, I realized that I for many years, and in periods, more or less, have perceived life as an obligation, a little like school, as something that I am forced to do.
This has especially been the case the last couple of years where I have increasingly experienced more apathy and resistance towards going up in the morning, feeling burdened by the pressures of my daily responsibilities. I had more and more gotten sucked into the experience that I was doing everything only because I had to, because someone, something else told me to.
To this story I have to add that I have spent most of my late teen and early adult life trying to free myself from the grips of authority, from others telling me who to be, what to do, and I succeeded to some degree. But what I did not realize was that I was still being governed by something else telling me who to be, namely the mind, and I had nothing to show for my apparent independence from life. I was in no way making a difference in the world, let alone preventing anyone else from having to go through what I have gone through.
I matured and I eventually realized that there is a purpose to things like having a job and getting an education, and that this purpose first and foremost has to do with actually making a difference in this world, and thus making something more of my life.
But somehow, in all of that, I still carried with me this perception of being forced to do the things I did, where it is basically like school where you are told that you are there for you, that you are there for YOUR learning, but where it is evident that you have no choice or say in the matter.
The thing is though: in life, I do. I decide what my life is going to look like. I decide whether I spend my days on this earth watching TV and eating Cheetos or whether I push myself to get up and make a difference. There is nothing and no one forcing me either way. And yes, there are things that I HAVE to do, because that is just how life is. There are certain physical requirements that life demands that we take care of, like taking the dishes or taking out the trash, if we don’t want to life a life of total squalor. And there are certain structural requirements that the world system demands of us, like showing up for work in order to get paid. There are especially many of those requirements that I do not agree with, or that I see can be changed, or that I even see that it isn’t actually required for me to follow. But there are also many where I understand that I do not have a choice, simply because of how things are set up.
So what I realized is that I have to WILL myself to do those things anyways. I have to make myself the starting-point of them, even though I may not WANT to or FEEL like doing them, and even though I don’t necessarily agree with them. I WANT to live in a clean and tidy house because I know from experience that it is nicer to live in. That means that I WILL myself to do the dishes, to vacuum and dust and do all the things required to keep my house clean and tidy. That does not mean that I am in any way forced to do any of those things. I can at any point prioritize that it is NOT important to have a tidy house at the moment, because perhaps it is more important to take a rest or spend time with my partner. It is the same with work. I CAN actually opt out of working, but obviously I would have to be ok with the consequences of not having a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean that it is an impossible choice. Virtually anything is possible, if I only I am WILLING to live with the consequences.
If I want the life I want, a life where my partner and I support each other in taking care of the household, a life where our physical environment thrives and is a nice place to life in, a life where I earn a decent living to support myself and my partner, yes there are certain things I HAVE to do. But I am doing them because I WANT TO, because I understand that that is what is required to create the life I want.