letting go of achieving

A guest post by Chad Davis

People are consumed with the idea of achieving. We must achieve academic excellence and earn a high school diploma, college degree, master’s degree, and finally a doctorate. We must then achieve the best position at the best law office or business partnership, earn copious amounts of money, and then achieve the “American dream” of living the high life—a mansion out in the middle of suburbia with a pristine white picket fence surrounding the exorbitant amount of property, of which resides one lonely tree in a sea of Kentucky blue seed grass.

This past weekend, I graduated from college. The experience was riveting. Not the graduation itself, but rather the fun I had celebrating that I would no longer waste another minute of my life reading or doing something that I both didn’t enjoy and didn’t learn anything from. The graduation part was more for my family. The celebration was all for me.

Now, that’s not to say college isn’t a wondrous time in our lives in which we actually do learn and grow. I’m simply saying that we learn and grow for the wrong reasons—most of the time, at least.

We shouldn’t learn about the world in the hopes that we may conquer the world or achieve some better understanding thereof. What’s wrong with learning about the world simply in the desire to learn?

I feel that most people in our society wouldn’t know what to make of that question. Some may ask, Well then what’s the point in learning? Surely there’s a reason to learn; we can’t just learn out of curiosity, can we?

This same concept is applicable to the statement above that we are consumed with the idea of achieving. What’s the point in life if there is nothing to achieve?

The point, I’d argue, isn’t found within the achievements of life at all. The point is the happenings surrounding the so-called “achievements”. Like so many religious sages have said throughout humanity’s existence, the point of life isn’t this imaginary pinnacle, it’s the journey itself. It’s living in the moment, the eternal Now. It’s only when we think there is a future toward which we can ascend when we become consumed with the idea of achieving. This idea of constantly needing to progress to the next level in your life has been institutionalized in our minds with phrases like “climbing the ladder to success”.

However, the problem is that there is no success toward which we can climb—in fact there is no ladder at all.

The human mind has created a fallacy that we have grasped onto for far too long. I see it every day and am deeply aware of the effects it has not only on other’s lives but also my own. And, I’m sick of it—hence the sarcasm you find in the beginning of this article. Depression, anxiety, drug addictions, anger, genocide, war, greed—all of these (and many more) ailments of society are caused from this separation from living in the moment. When we are not present, we are not alive but rather asleep and constantly dreaming of “a better tomorrow”. The “alternative”—or perhaps it would be better to say the “reality”—is much more simple than we realize.

All we have to do is pay attention. Pay attention to what you see, feel, hear, and think. Pay attention to others around you. Pay attention to everything.

When you realize there is no future—only the moment you experience in the present—then the world suddenly becomes your oyster. Have a project you’ve been meaning to do? What’s stopping you? If it’s the anxiety of not having time for something else to do today, think about this: so what if you don’t get everything done in the day that you planned? So what if you embrace your desire to play with your kids, paint a room, finish a reading, or do some work?

Tomorrow never comes. Only Now is in existence. Do what you want to do right now.

Truthfully, I loved college. I loved the people I met, the multitude of things I learned (whether inside or outside of the classroom), and the growth that occurred during my four years inside the bounds of a university. And I was sad the day it all “ended”. And then I sat down here, today, to write this article and remembered something so simple and incredibly profound that healed my sense of despair:

That which is eternal never dies and never grows old. That which is eternal is this world, just as it is, right now.

What gift do you have to offer right now? A smile to a stranger? A helping hand? Getting some work done? Whatever it is that you feel compelled to do, do it.

And for those who believe that this is a dangerous philosophy—one that can bring not only a massive social lethargy but also the loss of morality as a whole—I am not saying anything goes. I am simply freeing your mind from the bounds of time and the fallacy of achievement therein. After all, how could you not feel pain when you see a stranger in pain that needs help at that exact moment? If you truly see things in the Now, “progress” will still take place—in fact, I think there’d be a larger sense of urgency to ease pain across the world, both for humans and for the Earth as a whole, and truly increase the standard of living so that we may all embrace the Now with as little suffering as possible.

Time is just an idea, a tool, that let’s us connect and make contact with others throughout the day. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is the reality in which we reside. Let go of achieving and the time in which it takes place. Embrace what is really happening right now.

About the Author

Chad Davis is an aspiring writer of non-fiction, fiction, and screenplays. More than anything, Chad is an ever-learning and growing human being. You can see more of his work at his own blogsite: ChadleyDavis.blogspot.com.

One Response to letting go of achieving

  1. Noch Noch | be me. be natural. June 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    i get you. i achieved for 28 years. then crashed
    my achievements were spectacular, and then i got sick and nearly killed myself because of my achievements
    you will do well to not focus on achievements
    congrats on graduation!
    Noch Noch