Have We Mistaken A Shiny Penny For The Sun?

They tempt us with the shiny lure of success from the day we’re born. But I wonder, have we been miss-sold?

Image of the sun at sunrise for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by Luis Graterol on Unsplash

They tempt us with the shiny lure of success from the day we’re born. But I wonder, have we been miss-sold?

There’s always something to win or achieve isn’t there? I mean, stand back from your daily life experience for a moment and consider the nature of your interactions. Are the majority of them not attempting pushing you towards one thing or another? Are not others always trying to sell you on some idea, trying to sell you the prospect of gaining a reward or avoiding loss?

It seems that we spend our entire lives in perpetual pursuit of something. The trouble is none of it ever satisfies — we never get there. Yet in our naivety, we pursue it anyway in the vain assumption that whatever it is will make us happy.

Abraham Maslow, in his book, Toward A Psychology of Being said that man is a perpetually wanting animal. That sounds about right to me. However, is this wanting an innate function of the human animal or is it bred into us by a society constructed on the same vain assumption that whatever it is that is missing can be found?

“Human needs arrange themselves in hierarchies of pre-potency. That is to say, the appearance of one need usually rests on the prior satisfaction of another, more pre-potent need. Man is a perpetually wanting animal” — Abraham H. Maslow, Psychotherapist

As a result of some contemplation on this question, it appears to me that we have no choice in the matter. We are born to expand, not stay the same. The world of humans would stagnate and die if there were not something drawing us towards more. It is an ultimately unquenchable thirst to know who and what we are that keeps us looking. It is like a vessel that keeps expanding the more we try to fill it. It seems we’ll never catch up.

However, this in-built need for expansion and self-realisation has its downside. Our pursuit of ourselves has become a pursuit for more things, and in this, we have mistaken a shiny penny for the sun. The planet is our objectified adversary and so too are others who don’t match our ideals. We have bought and sold ourselves in pursuit of ourselves, and it will ultimately end in our destruction.

And this is how it is supposed to be, for nothing lasts forever. We will expand until we explode in a blaze of glory, or contract until we disappear into the black hole beyond the event horizon. It is true to say I believe that we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

Now, this is not a defeatest, nihilistic approach to life that I am suggesting. On the contrary, the truth of the matter is that our physical existence is finite; therefore, we still have a choice. To steal a phrase from Stephen King; “It always comes down to just two choices. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” This, for me, is about immersion in work that engages us, right now for no other reason than it makes us smile. Anything less is a waste of life.

I have been seeking answers for a very long time to a question I cannot, in fact, state. It seems strange; I know I want something, but I can’t quite say what it is. At the same time, I know the answer can’t be found, yet I know the answer. It feels like I exist in a dualistic reality where things are and are not at the same time. I have desires and wants, yet I know I cannot have them.

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”― Alan W. Watts

These desires, for the most part, have become weaker than they were. No longer do I have dreams of houses and cars and bank accounts. I don’t care for staus and possessions and staus like I used to, although there is a shadow of something still there. My concept of future and past also have changed, and in many ways, they feel like containers with holes.

Now, what does that mean for personal growth? Truthfully, I don’t know. It feels like growth or expansion or whatever you want to call it will happen of itself and requires no pushing around by me. I view the quest for better versions of ourselves to be a naive pursuit of the young and restless. I have grown out of that notion. I have tried that coat, and it doesn’t fit.

My goal is to write — that’s what ignites my interest. It is a means of exploration, of solidifying thoughts and ideas. These are the symbols I use to communicate something that I don’t know what it is. But I’m not concerned. I am motivated by something, that’s enough.

The thing that I have come to understand is that there is no getting this thing wrong because we never get it completed. There’s always another opportunity. So if like me, you have spent some time hypnotised by a bright shiny penny, perhaps it will lose its sheen soon, and you’ll be able to see the sun again.

Oh, such profundity!

Long story short; just get into it, whatever it is, and go deep. You might fuck it up, in fact you will. But that doesn’t matter because you’ll be dead someday soon. So no better reason to do the work you’re drawn to do. Become hypnotised by bright shiny thing by all means. Sooner or later you’ll figure things out.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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