Of what does a life consist? Written in hopes of finding a better way to plan my activities:
At this point in my life, the entire goal of my existence is the unfettered experience of an indefinable thing I term “Quality”, whose context of appearance is as variable as life itself. It has no recognizable features other than its own essence, and it seems to appear variously for different people. The one thing in common is the experience itself, which each person has to seek out on an individual basis. At the same time, however, Quality can arise from a certain group dynamic, or between two people, or an infinitude of ways. So there is no particular “way” that defines my search, but only the essential experience itself. There are probably innumerable ways to find it, and all of them are equally valid in that one respect. There is even a special quality in leading others to experience it; its ways and forms are without number.
The search for quality must begin with maintenance: Activity to allow for more activity. This kind of labor is an investment in the future, though if the task itself reveals quality, it falls into a different category. When the maintenance of my life coincides with my goal, such as making money by doing something I love, it is pure joy.
Once life is set to continue (for my part), the next task is learning where quality can be found, and pursuing it. This takes on too many forms to even mention, although it can be hard to find at first. One never knows without searching where quality will be found, just as a lover cannot find his beloved who does not step out of his house. Sometimes I am surprised by the places where I find quality – even finding it where I don’t wish to! But since quality is the goal, and not the medium, it pays to keep one’s eyes open, and expectations to a minimum.
A worthwhile task is the elimination from life of whatever does not match one’s goal. With respect to maintenance, this means exchanging quality-less modes of operation with those that exhibit quality in their own right. I found a way to do this for showering myself, for example, by finding an olive oil soap that I feel so much in love with, that now I look forward to taking a shower every day. When every single act of every day is joyful, and we look forward to the experience of being alive, then I think the fruits of good planning are shining through.
Perhaps planning, then, is simply the application of intellect to the question of how to organize life toward our goal. The more exclusively this is done, the more fulfilling each act will be – since our actions more and more purely lead to fulfillment. Loss of energy in unproductive activity (in respect to the goal) can only cause fatigue, and a sense that life’s possibilities are being wasted.
How to implement this as a plan? Since I am using Life Balance to architect my search for quality, I will describe things in those terms. First of all, the programs want me to list the tasks that are immediate to my goal, and then to break those down into smaller tasks, until I reach the point where each task can be done in a fairly short period of time. This results in a branching tree of tasks with parent, short-term goals, all leading toward my overall goal. The top goal is called “My life as a whole”, which in my case means “The search for quality”. Since anything else is a waste, I will create a category called “Wasted time”. That way, if anything does not fit into my plan, I will have a place to put it that reminds me of its role within the plan. The object of “Wasted time” is to remove the need for having such a category at all.
The top level items, in terms of seeking quality, would be: “Look for quality”, or actively looking for experiences where I can find quality. It is here that I would plan on buying tickets for a symphony I’ve never heard, or visit new places, or make new friends. I don’t know yet what I will find there, but exposure is always the best way to improve one’s chances.
In cases where I have found quality, I next want to strengthen my relationship to whatever it was that led me there, in hopes of taking me there again. If I hear a beautiful symphony, for example, I will want to find a good recording, buy a better sound system, learn more about the composer, etc. This is a cycle of enrichment, and fosters the growth of whatever seeds I’ve found. I would call this category “Improve capacity”. It includes the development of tools, the purchase of means, the maintenance of beneficial connections, etc. The improvement might be something that enhances the experience, or facilitates the creation of new experiences based on a similar theme.
Once capacity is honed, there is only one step left: making use of that capacity: to enjoy the quality it reveals, or exercise its abilities in creating new forms of quality. So “Enjoy quality” is where I plan experiences I know will offer just that – though in a passive context; while “Create quality” is a higher mode, in which the quality experienced is from my own hand. Everything is a build-up to this end of reveling in quality. Ideally, even “Maintain life” should differ from “Enjoy quality” only in the matter of necessity.
Such enjoyment takes its highest form, for me, in the act of artistic creation, especially when that art has a productive end – such as writing computer programs which can, themselves, be used to further these goals. In that case, all aspects of my humanity merge together in act whose mode of expression is joyful, whose result is joyful, and which result conduces to the future extension and refinement of that joy. This sort of cycle, where each element separately fulfills the goal, and all of them together further that goal, is evidence of genuine progress in realizing my purpose of a complete and continuing experience of quality.
And of course, there must be a category called “Maintain life”, which is not negotiable, whether its contents contribute to the goal or not. Some of these would more properly fall under “Wasted time”, except that they cannot be avoided; while others are really “Improve capacity” in the strictest sense, but with an importance that cannot be ignored – since doing so would negatively effect every other entry in the plan, whereas the reverse is not true.
Where does serving others come in? By referring to the spiritual concept of reflexivity – that one is all, and all are one – then aiding others to find and dive into quality is identical with doing so for myself. It is not the pursuit of individual joy that fulfills my goal, but simple the pursuit of joy in itself. Wherever there is more spirit manifest in the world, my goal is accomplished. Perhaps the overall goal could be expressed as “Brighten the world”, but since I believe this happens whenever the human heart experiences quality, and since all hearts are truly one heart, I have expressed the above plan in terms immediately applicable to the life under my control: my own.
It is very interesting, now, looking at my original list of tasks and fitting them into these goal-directed categories. It is not always obvious what should go where; although it is clear that no other categories need to be introduced. The inability to categorize something in these terms shows that I am not yet myself clear in how it relates to my goal. I think I will move everything unclear into “Wasted time”, and let time decide whether it should be moved into a nobler category. For some of them, already I ask myself: Is this an experience quality? Does it assist the experience of quality? Will it lead me to an experience of quality? If the answer to all three is “no”, then why ever am I doing it?