As I find myself rapidly approaching the ripe ol’ age of forty, I also find myself reading more books that would probably be considered “self-help” and maybe even “spiritual” in their context. This is especially true when I go back to North Dakota. The reading I take there has primarily become of the WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN genre. My recent trip was no exception. I took The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael A. Singer and The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus (I wasn’t able to start this one when I was there and I am still trying to carve out time), two different types of WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN books.
The Surrender Experiment is biographical, about Singer’s journey into the woods, literally. During college, he decides to give it all up to spend all day, every day meditating in the woods. Which in and of itself is fascinating. He gets addicted to meditating! I didn’t know that was a thing but I guess it makes sense if you think about it. It turns off that little voice in your head that is always running and telling you what to do and how to think. Singer was trying to escape that voice and learned how through meditation. The book outlines his experiment with surrendering to the universe, instead of to the little voice. Somehow, by saying yes even when the voice was telling him no, he sort of, accidentally, created a huge spiritual community in Florida and a billion-dollar software company. Sounds unbelievable, right? I will admit, by the end of the book (which I did very much enjoy!) I was like, Ok,ok, I get it! The universe keeps giving you things! However, I did find three quotes that really spoke to me and gave me a lot to think about.
Each of us actually believes that things should be the way we want them, instead of being the natural result of all the focus of creation.
Am I better off making up an alternate reality in my mind and then fighting with reality to make it be my way, or am I better off letting go of what I want and serving the same forces of reality that managed to create the entire perfection of the universe around me?
What would you be doing if you weren’t being influenced by the reactions of like or dislike?
At the same time I was reading The Surrender Experiment, my sister was reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. It seemed to me we were reading the same message, told in two very different ways. Mason also thinks that we spend too much time trying to turn everything into a lesson of happiness and positivity, instead of taking it for what it is, dealing with it and moving on. We only have so many fucks to give and we need to learn to spend them wisely. The conversation my mom, sister and I had around both books really got me thinking about the whole, “God has a plan,” argument that has pissed me off in the past. To me, this always meant instead of doing anything for yourself, you sit back and wait for whatever god you believe in to do it for you. What I have since learned, through these readings, is that I am wrong and I owe an apology to every person who I have rolled my eyes at after they state god has a plan for them. What it means is that god, the universe, something, whatever has a plan for you but they (he, she, it) only presents the plan to you and then it is up to you to decide what to do with said plan. You can either let the little voice talk you out of moving forward out of fear and uncertainty, or you can say FUCK IT and give it a try.
i’m going to work on version two. Fuck it, lets do this.
Follow up reading:
- the untethered soul: the journey beyond yourself by Michael A. Singer