“The ants go marching one by one, hurrah hurrah ...”
This song has been in my head the past two days. Over and over. For good reason. I’ve been watching myself trudge through the busy-ness of my life and I’ve been taking stock of the ways I feel so tormented by schedules and a lack of time. I started concluding that it was the beast of our modern existence, a trait developed by this "millennial" generation I’m in. But, then I realized that I used to hear my own father say the exact same things I do in regards to his conflicts with work/life/time. This is not new, this plight of our generation. It has been here for quite a long time, in the veins of what makes America pump.
Let’s call it: Operation Leg Up.
We validate our hustle in this operation with the following sentiments, which I’ve placed inside a big giant bubble for your viewing pleasure:
We each think our vision is unique. We think our plight is vastly more treacherous. We think our die-hard attitude is prized. We place our self-worth not merely on how hard we work, but on how close to the bone we work. We each defend our exhaustion and over-extension with the phrase, “But I have to.” When really, quite possibly, it’s just a fume we’re inhaling that’s completely unnecessary. And perhaps, more accurately, it’s completely toxic.
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah hurrah.
When we validate our hustle with the above statements, we allow them to be the foundation for our reality and for the experience of our life. And because the focus here is Operation Leg Up, we then subscribe not to our own path, but to a world of shoulds and the connected obligations in order to, let’s face it, make enough moula. We then start living towards a forced destination, one that we’ve manipulated and claimed control over entirely, no matter what. Thus, we have a reality of our life that is busy, overscheduled, disconnected, distracted, pressured, joyless, shaky, not yours. Yikes. Exhibit A:
Well, as is predictable, this bubble eventually bursts for one reason or another. And, blammo. Everything collapses. What you come to find out is that in the collapse, the things that got squashed are your creative expression, personal relationships, spirituality - amongst other things. Hence, a middle life crisis or a nervous breakdown comes next. Exhibit B:
Now, what if - instead of resting our life and our reality on these false promises - we build them on how we want to experience our life. I avoid using the phrase “how we want our life to feel,” because feelings can be warped at times. But, if you look solidly at how you want to experience your life, well, these are very grounded and very sturdy. Your life is then constructed on your basic needs and wants, fed by an ownership of how and what you are doing, and a celebration that the unknown journey is the entire point of it all. Exhibit C:
Plus, when you build out enough of these experiences, they can actually become the best foundation an engineer could muster up. Because, even if you are living this way, you are still going to work hard, you are still going to hustle, you are still going to get stressed, you are still going to fail, you are still going to want to quit, but it’s all built around a very conscious, unflappable, and mission-oriented system. The reward? A reality that feeds your vitality and that can handle any weather or life obstacle that come your way (ufos and dancing Richard Simmons included). A reality that at the end of your life you can say, damn, I chose wonder over the toxic fume of busy-ness. Exhibit C:
Don’t be ant, marching one by one. There’s no hurrah in that. How do you want to experience your life? March to that instead.