Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Living the Dream

Yesterday during my evening meditation I had a wonderful thought; about how it’s all different than we think. I cannot say that I even remember the details of what I was thinking, just that it all came with an intensity and an amazing clarity and a feeling of great satisfaction and calm.

This past weekend was really enjoyable for me. It was the realization of everything that I sense life can be. First and foremost the weather was phenomenal. Bright, bright sunshine and vivid spring colors. And I spend the weekend painting, walking my dog and simply sitting in the yard enjoying the beautiful weather.

I read an article in the New York Times this past weekend about Google and the intense and very demanding environment in which it requires its employees to work. Google offers its employee various classes and one of them is a class on mindfulness. Apparently while Google is requiring its employees to work at a pace that will kill them before their time it also recognizes the need to make them mindful of that fact.

I drip with sarcasm.

Seven sessions of mindfulness meditation training and then back to the exhausting - physically and mentally – grind. Back into that environment where everything is needed now, where eighty hours a week is the norm, where everyone is competing with everyone else. Seven sessions of mindfulness training is what Google is offering its overworked, over-taxed, exhausted employees so they can squeeze a few more productive years out of each of them. Chronic, stress-induced back pain is accepted by these same employees as the price to be paid to work for Google. Because working for Google is the opus, the dream. It is about prestige; Google only accepts the best and the brightest, actively seeks out the best and the brightest and if you work for Google that is proof positive that you are a member of that elite group: The Best and The Brightest.

Toward what end?

And for what? So I can drop dead even sooner? Having been there, fooled by the lure of big bucks, fooled by the lure of the admiration and respect of my professional peers, fooled by the lure of controlling my own professional destiny. I fed on the pressure and the stress, I met every expectation, every ridiculous deadline. Executive status, running my own business, making money, these (in my mind) were the constructs, the proof of a successful life.

But something interesting happens. One becomes saturated by stress, like an alcoholic becomes saturated with alcohol after forty years of heavy drinking. And once one becomes saturated with something unhealthy then over the years less and less of that something effects one more and more. A small amount of alcohol at year forty induces the same reaction as it did with a large amount at year ten. Much the same with a stress-aholic a little stress goes a long way the farther in one gets.

I had, after years and years of stressful living broken down until finally I just stopped being able to do any of it.

Why don’t we realize? We will work ourselves into a frenzy because somebody, society expects us to do so. For a pay-check, for prestige, so I can say I work for Google? I am among the best and brightest.

And I could drop dead tomorrow much the same as the guy who picks up my garbage every week.

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