OT: The Easy Way Out

Bill Loguidice's picture

Occasionally, I like to go off topic here at Armchair Arcade and use this valuable platform to discuss other subjects. In this case, I'd like to discuss a video a Facebook friend of mine posted, or, more correctly, reshared, which you can see here, and which I've also embedded at the end of this blog post. It's a popular video on Facebook (and apparently, elsewhere), with close to 80,000 likes, 466,000 shares, and 465 comments as I write this. The titles is, "This video will CHANGE your life." A lofty and tantalizing statement, certainly, but the question is, will it?

Clearly, I'm no stranger to inspiration and aspiration, both as evidenced in my own quotes, and in the creations of those I follow and enjoy, like - as just one relevant example - Zen Pencils creator, Gavin Aung Than, who I consider geniuses at their craft. As such, I was certainly ready and willing to be inspired by this Facebook video. Unfortunately, I found the video's basic premise deeply flawed.

Now, don't get me wrong. The message is well crafted and sincere, as well as beautifully spoken, apparently by originator, Alan Watts, himself. I can certainly understand the basic appeal of this well visualized video. The premise is, "What would you like to do if money were no object?" So far, so good. This is followed by the conclusion that it is better to have a short life doing what you like than a long life doing what you hate. Now we start to get into some of the issues. One particularly meaty passage states: "Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don't like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don't like doing. Which is stupid! Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way. And after all, if you do really like what you are doing - it doesn't matter what it is - you will eventually become a master at it." Et Cetera.

To be sure, if not taken too literally, those are nice thoughts in many ways, but the problem is, we don't live in a world that works how Watts describes. For better or worse, the world we live in runs on money, so you darn well better find a way to earn some while also following your passion. To me, following your passion at the expense of providing for yourself and your family is the easy way out, hence the title of this blog post. You may have some satisfaction, but at what cost? Life is not necessarily meant to be easy or enjoyable all the time. There is great sadness, great pain, great struggle in a life well lived. Without the bad, without all we must endure, how would we in turn get to appreciate and enjoy the good? Is it not better to overcome than simply participate?

Now, I tend to be a shy, modest person, but, paradoxically, I realize I do tend to talk about myself an awful lot online out of basic necessity, so it should come as no surprise that I'll use myself as an example here yet again. You see, I do follow my passion, which is represented in part here at Armchair Arcade, and also in the books I write and the other priviledged opportunities made available to me, such as working on a feature film documentary. However, even after doing all that for quite a number of years, I'm nowhere near the point of making enough money from it. This is where my day job comes in, which is certainly not the type of passion suggested in the video. Instead it's a passion in the sense that it supports both myself and my family, and allows me to pursue those aforementioned freelance activities, which very well may stand on their own one day. But not right now. In other words, my "non-passion" is a necessary part of my life and one I don't resent or feel like I'm wasting my time at even if, frankly, there are times I'd much rather be doing something else. To paraphrase a famous saying, if every step in a process is completely necessary, then every step in that process is equally important. So to me, Mr. Watts' vision is idealized, unrealistic, and rather something of a cop out. It's not easy, but sometimes having it all means working a lot harder than you might want to. If you make peace with that idea, then THAT will change your life, not the unbridled pursuit of a passion without the baggage that may have to go along with it.

Let me know your own thoughts on this subject...

Here's the video in question:

Comments

Virgil Spinelli (not verified)
Real life

Bill, I agree with what you have stated, perusing your dreams without responsibilities to lifes
The end justifies the means.
I am often sent places that I do not desire to go to.
I have to perform things that I may not want to do.
Why do I do all of these unwanted things?
Well in the end I am able to "do" the things I desire.
Small moments of serenity, happiness and peace are my rewards.

We as Americans do not realize that the rest of the world is not as privileged.
While it does not make us bad, it sadly skews our thinking.
I recommend anyone that thinks they have life bad, or just plain hates their existence reflect on the wonderful amenities that others do not have.
Indoor plumbing, heat, ample food etc.
I will get off my soap box and state this.
Pursue what you desire, provided that you respect what you have done.
My Father has a great quote "You have to shave in the morning"
The Man looking back has to be proud of the things you have done.

retroc64
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Joined: 05/11/2008
You got this all wrong.

You got this all wrong Bill, because you are leaving out one part of the equation: time. This ideal applies best to students with no bagage. What I mean is no children, no car, no house, and maybe just a small student loan. In other words, the way it should be. I will not get into the argument here about how much debt are kids get into, because I feel uncomfortable talking about politics online, but lets assume a young adult is just graduating from college and has little debt. That is the point in time I think this video discusses, and which you have maximum leverage.

So think about what the guy said in this context, with you just getting out of college, and having the world, and hopefully not much debt ahead of you.

Bill Loguidice
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Maybe, retro64, but it could

Maybe, retro64, but it could also be argued that you'd still be wasting valuable time by not establishing a career as soon as possible that can help you pursue your passion, until one day that passion could possibly stand on its own. That's more my point, especially since you'll have the most relative energy and flexibility early on, as well as much still to learn anyway.

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retroc64
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Half-ass is half-ass

I noticed that people who think like that either give up on there passion in the end, or never end up going anywhere with it. Careers suck the life out of you. Yes you make money, but at what cost? Go big, or make somebody else rich. The choice is your.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
hate that type of stuff..

hate that type of stuff.. there is no world like that i have ever seen.

single problem with that "do what you want" thing is.. NONE of us knows it.. we know what we want right now, hell quite often we never ever learn this.. but more often then not its not what we want later in our life. And its also a bit like saying "i count, fook anybody else" doing what you want worked real well for Kings, dictators, and a few others didn't it? Often doing what you don't want leads to learning you like something you thought you hated.. Humans are pretty flawed, more often then not we want many things that are not good for us.

Ask anybody who is doing what they want.. (is anybody?) if they got to do it from collage on? Bet you cant find one.. In fact ask the guy who made this.. if he does what he wants.. If he says he does, he is lying. Do what I say, not what I do...

Matt Barton
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I have much the same feeling

I have much the same feeling watching the video. This would've all been great if I were a student with no baggage and no clue what I wanted to do in my life. I started off as an English major in college because I thought it would lead to a career writing novels, which is all I could see myself doing at that point. Eventually, I discovered there was no realistic way for me to break into that, and by that time I had made some really life scarring mistakes that prevented me from doing something drastic--like move out to NYC and try to make the connections that give me the edge to get a novel published. Meanwhile, my profs were saying I had the potential to become an academic, and pointed out all the perks, etc. It really isn't a bad life at all. True, it doesn't pay nearly as well as a legal career or the like, but the trade-off is that I have great freedom in what I want to research and how I want to teach. Conveniently for me, I can justify pretty much all my "leisure" activities as professional development! Now that's a sweet way to go.

Looking at this video, I wonder, now, would it be worth quitting my job and dedicating myself 100% to pursuing that novel writing career? Of course not.

I do think, though, that many of us (myself included) accumulate baggage and responsibilities that we really don't want or need. A good example is kids. I know you personally get a lot of fulfillment out of your family, Bill, but others I hear nothing but complaints about how expensive and awful their children are. Yet they couldn't wait to get them. I know a young couple now that is talking about having kids, and I keep saying, why do you want them? Don't you know it's going to be a huge responsibility? Wouldn't you rather have more years to enjoy yourself before introducing that responsibility? But of course, their parents and others are probably saying the opposite--you better do it now before you get too old; there will never be a point of your life where you feel financially secure, etc.

Another place this comes up is unnecessary expenses. People go out and get super nice homes and then become slaves to earn enough money to keep it. Same for nice new cars. I'd rather drive an older car and live in a modest home and not have to work so hard myself.

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Bill Loguidice
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Matt Barton wrote:

I do think, though, that many of us (myself included) accumulate baggage and responsibilities that we really don't want or need. A good example is kids. I know you personally get a lot of fulfillment out of your family, Bill, but others I hear nothing but complaints about how expensive and awful their children are. Yet they couldn't wait to get them. I know a young couple now that is talking about having kids, and I keep saying, why do you want them? Don't you know it's going to be a huge responsibility? Wouldn't you rather have more years to enjoy yourself before introducing that responsibility? But of course, their parents and others are probably saying the opposite--you better do it now before you get too old; there will never be a point of your life where you feel financially secure, etc.

Certainly some people shouldn't have children that do have children, and certainly the people who should have children don't or can't, but that's one of those areas of human life that can never be perfect. I'm a firm believer that there's rarely a right time, so if you want it and can reasonably support the scenario you should do it, though obviously there are clearly (and obvious) times when you absolutely shouldn't do it. Based on my own experience I also err on the side of doing it when you're younger rather than older from a pure energy standpoint. Also, there's something to be said for getting it "out of the way," so you can incorporate the expense and effort early enough in your life where you can regain your "footing," and make progress again. Obviously, there's also a highly emotional side to raising a family and you have to accept that you can't get it all perfect, but then no one can. You do the best, sincerest job you can. I obviously wouldn't change my situation for anything.

Matt Barton wrote:

Another place this comes up is unnecessary expenses. People go out and get super nice homes and then become slaves to earn enough money to keep it. Same for nice new cars. I'd rather drive an older car and live in a modest home and not have to work so hard myself.

I agree with that. I think it's common/human nature with career, home, and family to go right to the edge of what you can handle. With that said, I also assume most intelligent people know when enough is enough. I know even if someday I could afford a bigger, better home, I'd be unlikely to go for it, simply because I know that it would involve more work/effort/expense to maintain it. I've reached the point of satisfaction/enjoyment versus effort (expense, upkeep, having-to-move-again-which-is-complete-torture, etc.) with this home and don't have any interest in changing if I don't have to. I'd rather pare things back at this point than make things more complicated.

In any case, to back to the original point of the blog post, which was a response to that video, I firmly believe we are the product of our experiences, so I'd never change anything. If I wanted to change anything, I'd do it going forward, not retroactively, which isn't an option anyway. As such, I believe that for me to be the best me, I need to have the day job along with the freelance stuff, not one or the other, and particularly not the other in the sense of following my dream at the expense of all else like in the video. You may as well play the lottery at that point, which I don't do anymore either (including gambling) because I've come to respect money too much and realize the ridiculous odds... If I'm going to become wealthy, it will be of my own doing, not by chance.

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retroc64
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Joined: 05/11/2008
Save and Load

I see most of the people posting here see things in a different way. I bet most of you also work for someone else. Either way you view life, it would be nice to have a Save/Load feature that we could you to try new things out at different points, and see what really works. Until then, this is mostly just opinion.

Bill Loguidice
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It is
retroc64 wrote:

I see most of the people posting here see things in a different way. I bet most of you also work for someone else. Either way you view life, it would be nice to have a Save/Load feature that we could you to try new things out at different points, and see what really works. Until then, this is mostly just opinion.

It's ALL just opinion. You take your best shot in life and see what happens. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. That's life. I still think, though, when you take that shot, there's a way to be reckless about it, and then there's a way to do it a bit safer where if things don't work out you're not screwed for the rest of that life. That's all.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Retro.. i think me and you

Retro.. i think me and you agree on alot and I guess disagree on some.. we are the two sides of this coin.. I think telling somebody they can do anything is wonderful and I wish it was true, but I dont believe it.. I do believe we should tell Impressionable people ( kids) they can do anything so they will try.. But when you really understand how the world works I question it ( and that would be this case, adults in collage).. I do believe teh world is the limit.. but as i said.. I want to be a FIREMAN.. its very doubtful I will want that forever.. so you cant judge that as a fail or success in my eyes.. I think its wrong t tell somebody they can be anything.. when its very doubtful anybody will ever know what they want.. its like saying that space is endless.. in my mind it ends where my mind quit seeing it.. for me there will never be anything past the farthest place I imagine.. sure it goes more.. but why does it matter if I cant picture it,see it or know it?

Telling me i can be anything.... I want to be a ghost, a god... no i just want to be a President of a small island republic.. or maybe Hugh Hefner heir apparent.. no, the owner of EA..

if i devoted very waking minute and part of my being to any of these.. I don't think i can achieve them.. SO in your mind I failed bucuase I felt I couldnt achieve from the start.. But I know people in music,painting that never did give up.. and they still are not successful , but .. do you consider it success that they are still doing and alive?If you consider that true to what that video means.. then I agree.. but all those guys are doing stuff like washing dishes and busing tables to keep that music dream alive.. so they spent time doing what they didnt want..

I guess its how you judge anything and success. I think my jobs ok.. but would honeslty pick something esle if i had 100% choice.. but even now i have satisfaction when i come home from a good days work where I helped people..I do what i want almost all the time after 5:00PM and on weekends.. I KNOW im far more happy then almost all my friends.. am i succeeding.. i think so.. am i what I wanted to be.. not if I go by what i wanted at 18.. But I know how the world works now.. and I feel I am doing what i want now..

point here is at 18,at 25, at 35.. i had different wants.. if i did what i wanted at 25.. it sure wasnt what i wanted at 35.. so at 25 I DID what i wanted.. but at 35 i would see it as time spent not doing waht I wanted at 35.. I just dont think the grand DO what you want.. rings true.. we simply dont know what we want, what we can achieve.. what we CANT achieve.. we just try.. and do what we need to keep trying.. that I do believe.

and that is opinion completly

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