The life project

My good friend @bealers just posted “Make life a side project” and it got me thinking.

My first reaction was something along the lines of shutup-you-crazy-person but now I’m veering slightly more to ah-i-think-i-kinda-see-what-you-mean. But not much.

The main thing that I reacted to was this notion of “sideness”. Putting life (yeah, we need to talk about what we all mean by that in a mo..) into a box marked “side project” seems to me to do something that’s potentially quite dangerous: It makes life “just another activity”, one which can be stalled, cut down to the minimum, fitted in around everything else, somehow made efficient.

I try* to think of this shit in a different way, a way that is a bit more redolent of Buddhist ways of thinking. I tend to think of us as being submerged in our lives, in life – and that the other shit that comes along: money, stress, illness, death even – are momentary interference. Another way of putting it: we float in life, and these things are ripples, tides, storms – but passing, not enduring.

There’s another complication here – one which Tolle alludes to when he talks about “life situation” – he famously said “Forget about your life situation and pay attention to your life”. This distinction between life and situation is crucial, I think, and “making life a side project” seems to miss this point.

* I say try above – because I am, like many of my peers – struggling a bit right now to keep things on the straight and narrow. Work balance, life balance, ill parents, moving house, finding time for the important things – this stuff can be a bit of a battle, and I’m not at my most shining at this moment.

But if there is one thing that I’ve taken away from all the reading, meditation, study and listening that I’ve done over the past ten years it is that things aren’t going to get better – by that I don’t mean fuck this shit, it’ll never get better but the notion of future-me-is-a-BETTER-me (or it’ll-all-be-great-as-soon-as-I’ve…) is a mind construct full of deceit. Those highlight reels on Instagram, the 18th new Javascript framework that just came out and YOU JUST GOTTA LEARN IT TO BE COOL, the new way of working, the smarter office you’re dreaming of, the future when business just ticks along and you get to spend time with your family on your yacht – these are all ok things to aspire to but as soon as they start running your life, you’re sunk.

The truth is this: you’re you, and life is now.

3 thoughts on “The life project”

  1. Evidently I didn’t explain myself very well, I rushed that post a bit as I was trying to get it of the door so I could do some living.

    I know you know that I totally get that work should facilitate living and not be the driver for life so I won’t justify myself on that count. 

    However, I have these problems:

    1) I find it really hard to relax, I need to be on the go constantly. We’re pretty sure medically why that is, I’ve some imbalance somewhere and it’s an actual thing
    2) I do not feel happy or content unless I feel that I am working on projects, doing *stuff* that feels in some way to be moving me forwards. (how one defines forward is a whole separate conversation)

    So, I have a default tendency to focus more on the ‘getting on’ bit than some of the more important things unless I remind myself that those other things are indeed more important and I should chill the *beep* out.

    Therefore, for me with the slightly broken brain as ridiculous as it might sound I actually need to remind myself sometimes to do all this other meta life stuff. 

    Having life stuff as mini projects, really helps me keep stuff in perspective and ensures they don’t get sidelined.

    I already know this. I have a relatively good productivity system that helps me keep things in perspective, the point of that post was that the ‘life as a side project’ was a catchy term that encapsulates a lot of my thinking.

    I’m just popping off to mediate now, oh hang on that clashes with cleaning the chickens out, I’d best re-send the calendar invite.

  2. Heyup, bealers – yeah, totally get that, and would like to talk to you sometime about the not being able to relax thing – I have this too, and very interesting to hear your experiences. It got me thinking I should maybe write some kind of geek book about this… [ – OO, another PROJECT … ] 

    I’ve come to the conclusion that of course “life” gets in the way sometimes – but I think for me switching the focus around here is important. Life is the backdrop, but can also be the project.

    Do you get what I mean?

    Clearly we need that long-overdue beer…

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