I write this rambling article somewhat as a response to the one posted on The Financial Times website titled "The Shrink & The Sage: Is it OK to do nothing?" and somewhat just for myself as I struggle to find where I stand on this topic. Admittedly this article is the kind I would write, then delete thinking there's no reason anyone should suffer through my rambling, but, well, keep in mind the section of my site you're on :)
While the article on the Financial Times site cheers on those who just abide and "do nothing", ironically, to comment on the article, one has to register an account and fill in several required fields including one's title or position to which "nothing" is not an available answer :P
Listen, as an ordained Dudeist Priest myself, I value the acts of just taking time to reflect on life and to enjoy the moment; we don't have to be achieving something in every minute of our day. The way of the Dude... Oh, if you have no idea who the Dude is, please sit back and enjoy one of my favourite Coen Brother's films: The Big Lebowski. You may have to watch it a couple times :) Go-ahead, I'll wait...
Where was I, oh yeah, the way of the Dude is very attractive, at least, to me, and to everyone who became an ordained priest of the Church of Latter Day Dude! Yes, a religion has been created around the main character of this film, and yes I became ordained in said religion (Dudeism) and yes you may call me crazy if you want, but that's just like... your opinion man.
But even being as big of a fan as I am, I can't help but respond to articles like that one, with the question of "How?" I mean, can one really just "do nothing" in today's culture?
Sure, take cues and incorporate many of the values from the Dude, but how does one "do nothing" and yet still put food on the table, or a roof over the heads of those who depend on you. I admittedly found this interesting that the Financial Times article didn't touch on the topic of how "doing nothing" can be financially rather difficult.
I did nothing for quite some time actually, after having saved a lot of dough from all my achieving a while back, I took a long time off and just enjoyed my days. College loans were all paid off and I just lived. With little to no stress, no bosses to tell you what to do, and no frustrations. It honestly was a great time. I was learning a lot about myself, my friendships, and any random topic that I was interested in in the moment.
I found frustration, anger or suffering was often (at least for me) only present when I brought it upon myself (I understand there are many out there who are in situations not as fortunate as mine). Be it the people I gathered with or the topics I delved into (to keep my mind limber) sometimes these things would cause me great frustration. But a little reflecting, minimizing threats to that Dude state of mind, and recognizing what mattered to me, all allowed me to enjoy more happiness more often.
A few times during this process I even held a job or two when they were offered to me, because they were actually enjoyable! I mean I was being given money for something I loved to do. Be it tutoring someone, or helping to resolve someone's computer problems (which to me was just hanging out talking about something I enjoyed!) I found great enjoyment in much of what I found myself doing.
I would teach myself to program in a new language, or I would learn about a different culture. I would keep up to date on the latest technology trends because it was, and remains to be, what brings me joy and excitement about the world.
But then the money soon ran down, as it is known to do. To keep food coming in, a roof over my head, and of course for the perks of life that I enjoyed I had to get a job again. A more stable job that is, since I didn't have that stash of cash to fall back on anymore. And interestingly, it's not like I was entering the job market with no skills. When revising my résumé I realized that I had gained many skills and a lot of experience over my time off. "Doing nothing" was actually rather "productive".
I still aspire to find that position where I get to do what I love all of the time. I have a few ideas on what that is, and I'm working to achieve them. But there's that word finally: achieve. While the article I refer to above speaks somewhat against our culture of achieving and being productive, and of course the whole concept of living like the Dude is about living in the moment and not giving a damn about all the certifications, achievements or positions one holds, but I can't help but find myself to be proud of these things sometimes.
I feel pride when I see my "Apple Certified Associate" credentials my Diplomas or when I've helped to resolve a technical issue that's been plaguing someone. I've been brought up by an education system which rewards those that invest time and effort in achieving.
Am I like Donny? Did I completely miss the Dude's story? Perhaps I even bring shame on the Church of Latter Day Dude by achieving and finding pride in it? Or did I stumble upon exactly why this movie has found such a cult following?
I mean, the Dude lives like we want to right? Doing whatever we find to be appealing at that moment. But we can't completely reach this. When we watch The Big Lebowski we catch a glimpse, even if just for the length of the film. And we are shown the travesties that often fall upon those that don't "just take it easy, man". Perhaps we can incorporate the Dude's teachings into our days but we can't live like the Dude, for he is the man for his time and place.
The Dude Abides.