Riding On The Back Of The Wave (Part 1)

If I was to tell you that I could reduce the stress in your life by, say, fifty percent; that I could make your money stretch several times farther than it does now and that I could show you how to live a longer life and a more relaxed life, with less worry and more quality time to devote to your family and friends …. would that be worth anything to you?

If I told you that I could show you how to achieve a more meaningful and fulfilling lifestyle, while reducing your living expenses, would that be of any interest?

If I could guarantee to show you how to provide a better world for your children and grandchildren than the one that society has in store, would you care?

The honest truth is, I can do all of these things, in one brief article ….. and I will guarantee that the vast majority of people will dismiss what I have to say … no matter how logical it is, no matter how awful their present lifestyle and no matter how clearly they can grasp the essence of what I have to say.

Right now, we are being told that there are some new epidemics sweeping through western society and they don’t involve chemicals or biological agents. The new epidemics are attacking the mental well being of people by the millions. We read that one in four people within western society will suffer some form of mental illness, at some point in their lifetime. I believe that a great deal of the pain and suffering that this epidemic represents, can be avoided simply and easily and that the quality of life that is available to most people can be improved immeasurably … with almost no effort at all.

We’ve all seen movie scenes of surfers, surfing the faces of massive waves and we’ve all winced at the sight of them ‘wiping out’ in a welter of spray, board thrown tumbling into the air and its former rider being presumably beaten to a pulp by the massive power of the sea. More relevant to my analogy, we’ve probably also seen those lifesaver surf boats being rowed out through the surf to save a stricken swimmer and then rowed back to shore on the crest of a wave. Its all very exciting, partly because we know that one error of judgement on the part of the crew or the skipper and the boat will broach and capsize, throwing its cargo into that same massively powerful meat grinder of a wave!

Anyone who has spent any time at all playing around with small boats in the sea, will learn very quickly about waves. One’s very survival depends upon knowing how to control the craft and to avoid the dangers that the turbulent surface of the ocean can be. If you have never spent time this way, you just might not have the full picture of the story of waves, Everyone knows what happens on the front of a wave …. we’ve all seen the dramatic videos. But its what happens on the back of that wave that I want you to know about. You see, if you are in a small boat and you are overtaken by a large wave, one of several BAD things can happen. At this point (the moment of being overtaken by the wave) your boat is on the front of the wave. The wave might break over the stern of your boat and swamp you … you’ll be sunk so quickly, you won’t even know what happened! Or your boat will be picked up on the face of the wave, broach (turn side on to the wave) and be tumbled over and over with passengers and gear being deposited into the maelstrom. There are other variations of these outcomes but they all end in disaster.

So let me tell you what is happening on the back of the wave. Nothing! All of the violence and chaos that is happening on the face of a wave is totally absent just behind the crest. So the operator of a small boat will simply place his craft just behind the wave’s crest and regulate his speed so as to keep perfect pace with the wave. And in this way, he can ride a single wave all the way to shore, smoothly and with zero danger to his craft and its passengers.

So what’s with all this nonsense about boats and waves? Most people are living life like those surfers I mentioned. They are riding the front of the wave. And they are getting wiped out and pummelled by life. Those wipe-outs are the people who are crushed by life and who find themselves living with anxiety and depression, Of course, not everyone wipes out and there are plenty of people who actually enjoy the thrill of living on the edge, taking the big risks and succeeding against the odds. Good luck to them. For the rest of us though, the people who find life just too demanding, too scary and too insecure, there IS an alternative. Like those clever boat skippers, we can ride the back of life’s wave … where all is smoother, less violent and simply a great deal easier.

Making the transition from the insanity of life at the front of things, to the relative serenity behind the action is far simpler than you might imagine. YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO LET GO! But you need two things to achieve this. You need courage and you need logic. I’m not talking about what passes for courage within society. The insanity of the soldier who charges an enemy position without any chance of success and with no sense of fear isn’t bravery … its stupidity. Not what we need. And the logic that we require isn’t the pseudo logic of rationalising every last thing to suit our own view of the world. Its the logic that enables us to accept and to embrace reality.

Let’s start with a bit of logical reasoning and PLEASE, if you don’t agree with anything that you read here, then by all means, reject it. I am not an authority on anything and I don’t claim to be. So let your own logical thinking be you guide; your ONLY guide for the rest of this discussion.

A few observations.

People today are living in a world of constant, unrelenting change.

Almost every form of employment that is now available involves an endless learning process to keep skills updated and to maintain one’s employability.

The material wealth and standard of living of ordinary people is higher today, than at any previous time in history.

Employment opportunities and the ability to earn, are limited more and more to specialised, highly educated persons and there are fewer and fewer unskilled jobs available for those who lack higher level learning.

Those of us living in western society and in a free market, consumer economy are subjected to an endless exhortation to consume more and more.

We are encouraged to discard yesterday’s assets, far ahead of their obsolescence, in favour of ‘new’ models.

We are taught that our value as a person is inextricably linked to our ability to acquire, to possess, to earn and to own.

What follows is based entirely on the statements that I’ve made above so, if you feel that I am incorrect in any of them, there is perhaps no need for you to read the rest of this article. I always reckon you should walk away, as soon as the other guy makes an assertion based on an illogical premise. Assuming I haven’t bored you to death or offended your sense of logic, please read on.

It seems obvious to me that our planet simply cannot continue to provide the produce and the raw materials that modern man needs to maintain his present, indulgent and luxurious lifestyle (much less to continue history’s increase in material living standards). The current generations are going flat chat, raping every last resource that the planet has to offer, all in the name of worshipping the sacred dollar. And they give no thought (although a little lip service) to the rights of future generations to inherit a planet that is still sustainable and viable. Like bacteria, we are simply exhausting the resources that we can reach … and then moving on to new ones. In our wake is always a world that is worse off for us having been in it.

This problem will solve itself, by the way. It is predicted that future wars will be waged over resources, not ideologies .. and its a fair bet that we will reduce our numbers and our burden on the planet because we are so very clever now. We make better and better weapons all the time. Its one of our greatest skills as a species. And maybe wiping ourselves out will ultimately be the best contribution we could make to the sustainability of life on earth. We are arrogant to imagine that we are forever, when so many species before us have disappeared. And the only thing that makes us any different will be that we will be the architects of our own destruction. That certainly puts us a cut above those lesser animals that got wiped out before us!

And the machine that is consumerism exhorts us to acquire, acquire, acquire like there’s no tomorrow. Frankly if we don’t soon wake up, there certainly WON’T be any tomorrow for us as a species.

Logic should tell you if what I’m claiming is likely to be so. Again, if you don’t agree, there’s probably little point in wasting any More of your time. If I’m making sense however, then what can YOU do to change the world and (more importantly) change your life? The answers are so simple and obvious that you already know. But that knowledge, that little voice at the back of your mind that constantly calls to you to apply common sense … is being drowned out by your consumer lifestyle and the endless false messages that you are getting from the ‘idiot box’. It astonishes me that modern people are so ensnared by their own insane values and lifestyles, that they have actually lost pretty much any sense of reality.

So the first thing that you need to do is to turn on your own logic unit … and TURN OFF THE IDIOT BOX. If you restrict your TV viewing to just a few hours a week, you will likely have quite a few more hours each week to actually LIVE A REAL LIFE …. instead of immersing yourself in the pretend, virtual lives of a lot of fictional and fanciful entities ….A good rule of thumb here is …. if they’re inside the box, they are outside of reality.

There are two benefits. The first is that you have extra hours to actually live life and to achieve valid, self affirming goals. Now, if I offered to extend your life by ten years and I could actually deliver on my promise, I’m guessing that I could probably name my price and you’d pay happily. So why are you wasting so much of the actual life that you do have? The second is that you reduce your level of exposure to the endless false messages that the machine wants you to hear.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why advertising works and why they use the techniques that they do, to get their message across? The volume is almost invariably elevated above that of the normal programme, they employ flashing images, annoying voices, and mind-numbing, endless repetition to make sure that their message seeps into your addled brain, at a time when you have already thrown it into neutral as you ‘relax’ for your evening’s respite from life’s daily hectic rush. And perhaps the thing that I most despise about advertising, is that it invariably appeals to everything in your nature that is false, petty, self-indulgent and ego-driven. And guess what. They hit the mark pretty well! Of course, it isn’t only the advertising industry that promotes all these false values. Your neighbours (incited by the advertising industry) will be great ambassadors for that same cause!

So once you turn off the idiot box, the next step is to TURN ON YOUR LOGIC FUNCTION. Your mind is by far your greatest asset … infinitely more important and more impressive than your bank balance or the size of your house/car/TV or salary. But society and the consumerism machine work very hard to ensure that you keep that pesky thing inactive. The best thing that you can do to make the world a better place, is to awaken that sleeping giant and put it to work. Use it to actually examine your life and the values on which it is based and QUESTION whether you are on the right track … or whether you’ve allowed yourself to be fashioned in the image of the consumer god.

Look at your life honestly and ask yourself some simple questions.

Do I have ENOUGH? (Not as much as my greed instinct or my ego says I want, but rather, what I need).

Do I ENJOY what I have? The greatest single thing you can do to improve your life is to cultivate a wholesome appreciation and real enjoyment of what you have already. You don’t have to earn a single extra dollar to do this, or consume any resources or suffer any anguish. You only need to take the time (some of what you now have extra, because of your reduced TV viewing) to look over your assets and ask yourself just how lucky you really are to have what you do already. There’s no point in having more things in your life than everyone else, if you don’t actually enjoy having them.

Do I have enough resources and am I using them in the most effective and beneficial way? Resources here aren’t just money. Not by a long chalk! Your resources include your time, your physical health, your existing material possessions, your friendships, business contacts, your family, your intelligence (that’s the biggy) and yes, your money too. I’m sure there are others that I haven’t thought of. Put simply, there’s no point in having a good income, if you waste your money. There’s no sense having available time, if you don’t put it to good use. There’s no point in having THINGS if they don’t bring you pleasure or if they cause you pain. And the same can be said of your friends and family. That’s right. If the pain exceeds the gain, even friends and family can become liabilities! And there’s no point in having an able body if it only sits on the couch (of course, you won’t have it long, if you don’t use it … kind of like your mind!).

Am I basing my life choices on logic and reason (am I in charge of my life), or am I bowed down to the machine? Do I buy what I don’t need, because it will impress someone else and therefore make me feel good about myself? Do I seek relationships for any reason, other than the mutual enrichment of myself and those with whom I associate? Do I live truly, according to what I actually believe, or do I go with the flow of popular opinion? Do I see my value as a human being as a reflection of my own beliefs or do I seek affirmation of my worth from others?

Do I have a sense of joy and celebration about my life?

Do I feel excited by my life and the things that I do each day?

Is my life FUN?

I could go on and on with this, but I think you get the drift. The message is ….. question, question, question. Demand honest answers from yourself. Don’t fall into the habit of rationalising, to dress up (justify) your answers to yourself. Let logic be your only measure.

Perhaps I can give you a few practical examples from my own life, to illustrate. Not that I’m any sort of a guiding light. There are plenty of areas in my own life that are in desperate need of work. But I am trying to embrace the philosophy that I espouse. And I think that, given my circumstances, I’m a reasonably happy person. Not well adjusted, perhaps … but happy enough.

I am not wealthy by the standards of the people in my community and I certainly don’t register on the local social scale. I have a few friends and I have family who live far away. We visit each other occasionally.

Years ago, I moved to a small property in the country and I live a very quiet and perhaps limited lifestyle. I grow fruits and vegetables for my table. I do a bit of fishing. I tinker quite a lot and do most of the labour on my own property … everything from rebuilding part of my barn, to changing the engine in my truck to rebuilding my digital camera.

My house is small ….. but it is warm and cosy and large enough to be comfortable for my partner and me … and the occasional visitors. Most of our home heating is supplied by firewood that is grown on this property.

I recently purchased a new motor car. Its a 1995 model four wheel drive and it has travelled 176,000 kilometres (around 100,000 miles) Let me tell you about my car, because it illustrates one of the fundamental principles of what I believe. My car, when new in 1995 cost about $40,000. I bought mine for $3,000. I see in the paper that similar models are available that have travelled more than twice the distance that mine has, so I assume there’s still some life left in it. And every time I drive that vehicle, it thrills me to bits. It has a sunroof, air conditioning, plush upholstery and it doesn’t have any rust. Its in lovely mechanical condition. And whenever I get to drive it, I feel privileged to own such a wonderful thing.

There are people out there (lots of them) who are driven by the machine. And they could NEVER bear to be seen driving my old car. They have the latest thing in 4X4 … much more impressive looking with loads of amazing new features …. and they will pay whatever the current going rate is for a new 4X4 … and then spend half their income paying for it, only to sell if off in just a few years …. to repeat the whole process. They have to earn ten times what I do, simply to do exactly the same thing (own a satisfactory mode of conveyance). The only real benefits that a new vehicle has over an older one that is mechanically sound, are PRESTIGE and peripheral features. And for this, people (driven by the advertising propaganda) are willing to place themselves under massive financial pressure.

‘PRESTIGE’ is an illusion and a cancer on society … one of those petty pseudo-values that devalues all of us.

Motor vehicles that are still perfectly serviceable, are being trashed every day simply because people need to replace them with something new, just to satisfy ego and avarice. If you need to be driving the latest ‘wank pack’ before you can feel good about yourself, you are in serious danger of being crushed under the weight of the wave! The person who quits a perfectly good asset, simply to replace it with the same thing in a different model, colour, style is illogical at best and pathetic at worst. And they are contributing to the destruction of the world that we should be leaving intact for future generations. Nothing lasts forever, but there can be no logical excuse for abandoning a commodity that has used up precious resources in its manufacture, before it reaches the end of its practical life.

And if you think that guy with his brand new vehicle gets any more joy and pleasure from it, than I do from mine …… well I seriously doubt it. And I don’t lie in bed at night, wondering how I’ll make the finance repayments on my vehicle. Nor have I given any thought to whether my friends are impressed by it!

This is part 1 of a multipart article. I will publish further instalments, as time permits. I hope you have enjoyed Part 1.  For part 2, please see http://andrewcaddle.com/wordpress/268/

Andrew Caddle 2013-10-08



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