“Insecurity is a waste of time.” Diane von Furstenberg
Alan Watts, philosopher and theologian, made an interesting analogy concerning life as we know it. He asked his audience to imagine falling off a cliff and holding onto a large rock. My mind went straight to Wile E. Coyote. He was always holding onto a large falling rock, and usually missing the Roadrunner (quickus agilus bird) by a mile.
Now here’s the point Watts was making: Holding onto a rock while falling at two hundred miles an hour seems rather stupid, yet we do it every day without considering the consequences.
We all hold onto large rocks as we fall through life with the result being similar to Wile E. Coyote (stupidus dog).
As Watts explains, we follow those around us, meaning our parents or other close relatives, etc. At a young and impressionable age, we see them as examples and, therefore, don’t question their choices. So it’s sort of a blind-leading-the-blind scenario. We all hold onto large rocks as we fall through life with the result being similar to Wile E. Coyote (stupidus dog).
We go splat.
We go splat — not because we want to go splat — but because life is a continuous descent. We’re constantly falling and constantly wondering why we go splat. Simply put, we’re holding onto something that isn’t doing us any damn good.
We also teaching our children to do the same thing (splat begets splat).
Ironically, we know enough to yell “Let go of the f**king rock!” to Wile E. Coyote (as we’ve done regularly since early pubescent times), yet we don’t know enough to let go of the rock ourselves. In fact, we hold on even tighter.
The rock, if you haven’t guessed, is our insecurity. It’s what we like to think are our responsibilities (family, home, mortgages, etc). We pass this responsible thinking along to our children, teaching them to cling the same way we do.
Like the old expression: “My father [or mother] worked like a dog his/her entire life to give us everything we needed.” So we do the same thing and, through the process, we feel satisfied living up to our father or mother’s example.
On Facebook, we constantly see people thanking their fathers and mothers for their sacrifices. It’s a wonderful and tender moment, but it reveals a pattern of insecurity that becomes like genetic code.
On Facebook, we constantly see people thanking their fathers and mothers for their sacrifices. It’s a wonderful and tender moment, but it reveals a pattern of insecurity that becomes like genetic code. It’s inbred into one generation after another.
All we’re doing through this self-sacrifice is swimming against a tide of insecurity. We’re working and living by rote, believing this is the only way we can — and should — live. Yet we don’t have to swim against a tide or encourage our children to do so. By letting go of the rock — or swimming with the tide — we can break this insecurity.
When we go splat — like we do every time we have a garage sale — we realize all our energy went into things we sell at a fraction of their original price.
It doesn’t mean we relinquish our responsibilities. It means we look at what they are. Working long hours, for instance, so our families can have lots of stuff isn’t ideal selflessness. It’s materialism. It’s relying on possessions, like that falling rock, expecting it to break our fall. When we go splat — like we do every time we have a garage sale — we realize all our energy went into things we sell at a fraction of their original price.
Do any of these things reduce our insecurity or anxiety? No, we go out and buy more. We move up to better phones, better televisions, better call rates, better cars. The only people really happy about this are the manufacturers.
Have you noticed how your computer slows down each time you add a new operating system or app? This is intentional. Apple works on this instinctively because they know we’re insecure. We’ll increase memory, we’ll buy a new computer, then we’ll go through the process again.
But we, my friends, are the Wile E. Coyotes of the consumer cartoon.
Manufacturers capitalize on this and they win. Every time line-ups form outside Best Buys the morning a new iPhone is introduced, they’re showing us how much they win. It’s great for shareholders, and Apple, but we, my friends, are the Wile E. Coyotes of the consumer cartoon.
Think of Wile E. Coyote again. He can’t stop his descent (it’s called age) but he can avoid the splat factor by letting go of the rock. By concentrating — not on what we give our families materially — but what we give them spiritually — we break the cycle of insecurity that’s making everyone miserable.
At the end of the day, according to the Dalai Lama, anyway, making friends and feeling good about yourself is a lot better than eating a skinny bird.
By spiritually, I mean Wile E. Coyote could have saved all the money he spent on dynamite, anvils and cannons (not to mention medical expenses), and put it into creating an environment that would attract the Roadrunner instead of putting him on the defensive.
It’s called “Make Friends Not Dinner.” At the end of the day, according to the Dalai Lama, anyway, making friends and feeling good about yourself is a lot better than eating a skinny bird.
So let go of that rock. It’s not going to change your descent (it’s still called age) but you’re going to hurt a lot less knowing you ain’t a pancake under a piece of granite. By letting go of your insecurities and anxieties, generations after you will realize there’s more to life than following a pattern of purchase.
Robert Cormack is a freelance copywriter, journalist and novelist still looking for ways to slow his descent (like freelance assignments). His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major book retailers. For more information, go to Skyhorse Press or Yucca Publishing.