Life is really just a party
What is all this living stuff for?
We live; we die right?
We are overwhelmed with the feeling of having to “do something” with our lives.
Some people go through life completely lost, numbing themselves with distractions like drugs, joy, and sadness. Others (and it’s always others), seemingly have it all together.
But our lives will “do” just fine. We don’t need to help our life “do” anything any more than we need to help our lungs breathe. It will happen.
Now, because life has an ending, we try to “do” the most, or least we can.
Sometimes we try to maximise life by being the biggest, best, happiest, richest.
Sometimes we try to minimise everything by maximising solitude, rebellion, or melancholy.
We may even try to rebel and drop out, or just go along with our lives meandering like a cork in a stream. The measurement always seems to be what you are “doing” with your life and to “get” the most out of it.
But who said there has to be meaning?
The type of meaning we look for is destructive.
Your life has to have no more meaning or outcome than does a party. Life is actually just “like a party, and all that comes with it.
Life, like a party, requires some planning, work, and cleaning up. But just because there is work, doesn’t mean there has to be a serious goal.
A party doesn’t have any residual life beyond a hazy memory. You don’t have to “do” anything with it. Make some preparations, create the environment, and then it takes care of itself.
Like life, you can’t plan for the peak moment of a party, indeed you don’t know if there will be one, or when the peak will occur.
In some cases, the highlight of the party might be the moment you check out and leave. A good party is not defined by a good highlight, but a number of events such as a particular dance, food, or a funny story.
You can’t plan for the peak.
I remember during university days we’d try to go out and get ‘wasted’ to force the good times, but nothing happened. Other times, it just happened.
The best nights are accidental.
The only thing people want to do at a party is to enjoy the moment. You don’t plan too far ahead by thinking about the moment your pleasure will peak.
Now don’t confuse desires and aims with plans. You may desire that girl in the corner, but planning to make those desires materialise is impossible.
You just ride the wave of a party, you ride the moment. You “are” the wave, and at the same time, you “ride” the wave.
When the moment is done, it’s done. The moment is gone like a puff of smoke, leaving nothing behind but a hazy memory. Life is the same.
The master plan
If your life had a big master plan, then every event making up your life would have to be part of that master plan and have its own role.
Having a master plan means restricting your life to one definition. Do you desire retirement at age 60? What about kids, health, travel, friends, spirituality? We have so many different things we ‘desire’ all at once. But to try to put it into a box of life plans creates destruction.
Perhaps your financial goals are in tatters but you have everything else. Perhaps you have money but are living a miserable unhealthy life. You can’t have it all, because the human condition is predicated on suffering. The more you desire, the more you suffer.
When you go to a party, you expect all good things but when you might reflect and think, that was a great party, despite the bad dessert and that obnoxious couple on the table. You have perspective and quickly forget the inevitable negatives. But in life, we obsess over those negatives.
We try to get work-life balance and navigate other equally ridiculous high wire acts. We then focus on the unsuccessful because those things have to be corrected, so we spend our time in the negative.
We live with the illusion of there being a grand plan to “do something” with our lives, but like a party, there is no grand plan other than to participate and contribute.
Like the party, in the end, it doesn’t;t really matter. The party ends, and the world goes on. But this doesn't mean the party was useless and should never have been attended.
This illusion of purpose creates great stress, because somewhere deep down, you know nothing really matters.
Although you feel nothing really matters, you think things (life) should matter. Shaking these contradictory thoughts is almost impossible.
The 1970’s philosopher Alan Watts described life as being like a dance. A dance has no goal. You dance because you want to dance. You don’t dance for the moment the song ends, you dance for the dance.
You don’t go to a concert to hear the artist reach that one famous note, or guitar solo.
You don’t go to a party for the moment you leave.
You go to a party for the party. You dance for the dance. You attend the concert for the concert. You go for a walk for the walk. So why not live life for the living, rather than focusing on the end — wherever that is.
Bizarrely, if you focus on an end game, you focus on death, the ultimate end game. And if you focus on a peak before death, you may as well die thereafter.
I’m a cyclist. I love and hate the climb to a peak, love the achievement, but equally love the ride down to the end.
But I don't ride for the moment I finish. I ride for the ride.
Somehow, in life, we have constructed the end of the party as “the” defining moment and work backwards.
Life is the party, life is walking the dog, life is doing your work. Life is what you are doing now.
Feel free to prepare for future events, and do some work, but don’t let life be ruled by the end game.
Control and sacrifice
Letting go of the ending is liberating.
You may think this sounds reckless. Letting go of the ending does not mean blowing your salary at a casino each week. It means being comfortable in your level of saving and sacrifice.
Liberation means that you need to equally encourage sacrifice into your life as much as the fun. So many of us have such deep troughs that we spend our whole lives trying to maximise pleasures.
But along the way you need to level out. Try need to make constant adjustment, even though you don’t know where you’re heading.
If your life is full of ups and downs, you may need to dial up the sacrifice.
If your life is full of meandering ordinariness, you may need to turn down the sacrifice.
You don’t have one dial.
You may have to dial down the sacrifice and seriousness in your relationship, but turn up the sacrifice at work. It applies to all parts of life.
I am not proposing a homogenous dreary waveless life, but a life with waves you can survive for the long run without damaging the boat and sinking in a world of obesity, depression, alcohol, or boredom.
Live a life that expects nothing.
But, if you expect nothing, then what’s the point of living?
The point of life is the same as the point of a party.
Life and work is something which happens and which will become a hazy memory to those who participated with you.
It’s not dark to think of life ending in a hazy memory, it’s liberating.
You are in the party of your life, don’t be the stressed person constantly looking at their watch counting back from midnight.