Conforming, or deciding not to, is difficult for children and parents. This heart-warming video captures the pressures of conforming, and what happens when we over do it.
Life is often thought of as a series of achievements we must pass at each stage. From kindergarten on, our life is structured around specific goals we aim to reach. Once we become parents, we try our best to help our children prepare themselves to lead a successful life. However, a lot of this preparation involves us trying to make sure our children are grasping society’s expectations. Most of which have clear structures we must conform to. But as Alan Watts, the famous British philosopher explains, life is not so easily structured. “The existence, the psychical universe is basically playful”. According to him, the best analogy for life is music. We are meant to enjoy the moment, as each note is played. The point isn’t the finally. In that case composers would only play the final crashing cords. Like a dance, it’s the process that is meant to be enjoyed. Not the place where we end up. Not the final movement we make. We have learned to structure life, but in essence, life is quite unstructured.
The Unavoidability of Structure
If that is the case, then why do we spend our lives aiming for goals rather than enjoying the moment? To some extent, that is the best way to achieve life goals. Our system is so ingrained in this structure, that it would be hard to diverge and maintain a comfortable life. In other words, some degree of conformity may be necessary. Like going through the education system, building a path towards a career, succeeding in your field by achieving the aims set up for you. Perhaps some degree of structure is unavoidable.
But this doesn’t mean we should discard Alan Watts’ insights. Perhaps the best approach is to keep this in mind, and take the time to remind ourselves that life is like music or a dance, meant to be enjoyed as we go along.
The Price of Not Listening to Ourselves…
Checking in with ourselves and making sure we are not conforming to external expectations for everything that we do is important to keep in mind. The adorable animated short film, “Alike”, captures what happens if we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to follow what is internally vital for us. If we ignore our internal motivators, we slowly, over time, begin to die a little. Or as the cartoon depicts, turn grey. So although a minimum of conformity is necessary to keep a society structured, it is up to us to keep our inner compass aligned with what makes us feel alive. And to remember that it is up to us to enjoy the moment and not spend too much energy focusing on the end goal.
Looking for someone to discuss your life goals with, and make sure you are following a path aligned with your inner compass?