In my estimation our world is becoming one of instant gratification, high expectations without any investment and one of distraction. I really notice it more so at this time of year, not that it isn’t prevalent year round. It is beginning to seem as if most people’s lives are being shaped more and more by advertising, television and popular culture than they are by their families, communities and neighbours. I was watching an Apple ad tonight about Christmas and they are always implying that your life is not nearly as good as those who own these products. Same goes for car ads, I just never really get how life is suddenly more exciting because you own a car never mind because you own a particular brand of car. In addition with the pervasiveness of TV and the fact that every facet of life has a TV show being produced about it, there seems to be this notion that life is what happens on TV and to those on TV. Somehow we are now outside of life, or only observers of life. Our mundane existences do not nearly match up with those on TV; though to make sure we are not left totally desolate they ensure to show enough desperate people so that we can feel better about our situation. They always have a moral to teach us and it all wraps up handily before the show ends (except for the occasional to be continued).
Another book I have encountered lately that has had a huge influence on my life is “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. This book has completely changed my life and has put me on a completely different path for my life. It came to me right at the exact moment I was ready for it. My life had kind of been going in that direction naturally or at least so it seemed. Though I should state I have no desire to identify as Buddhist per se. I am just apt to borrow from any philosophies, religions, writings and even fiction to add to my life philosophy. As to where the book came from that’s a story for another day. It was one of the greatest gifts and influences on my life thus far.
One of the hugest lessons I have learned from this book is to ensure you are just being yourself at every moment. If you can do this you will be your best, although there is always room for improvement.
“Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.”
― Shunryu Suzuki
There are a few books out there that have really shaped or changed my life. I will be discussing them from time to time here. One of the books that had such an impact on me was “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera. I would highly recommend reading this book. I love the philosophy of it. Two of my favourite passages or quotes from the book are as follows:
“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.”
“There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, “sketch” is not quite a word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being