“Decline starts with the replacement of dreams with memories and ends with the replacement of memories with other memories.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I would first like to start out with my definition of work, which I mulled over in a previous article, but to summarize: mental or physical activity with the intention of earning an income or subsistence.
I have heard a coworker or two say something along the lines of I will work myself into an early grave or I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t working. I was at first puzzled thinking about all the things I would do with a supplement of time and energy. Briefly, in the short-term, I would purse a powerlifting goal that I never achieved once I experienced the stress of full-time work, and I would read and write far more often. People mention that you can only watch so much Netflix or play so many video games. While this is true, it shows many of these people have lost their dreams of accomplishing or creating something.
I find this really sad to some extent because I see creativity (art) as the highest human experience which many people have given up on long ago. Art allows us to feel a wide range of emotions and connect with others in a spiritual way. While this can definitely be felt by observing art, I don’t feel as though being a spectator will ever produce true fulfillment. However, American culture has lulled people into being comfortable being told what to do and distracting themselves via consumerism. They are never truly fulfilled, but keep buying in a futile attempt to fill the void.
In addition, spectatoritis has run rampant with the perfect example being how many people around the world watch the biggest event on TV, the Super Bowl, each year. Being a spectator and watching others achieve can temporarily fill the void of personal achievement just as consumerism attempts to do, but it will never last. There is nothing inherently wrong with watching sports and there is nothing wrong with a little leisure, but if you are deriving real personal pleasure or experiencing real pain from from watching your sports team, I think you have taken being a spectator a bit too far. I used to be an avid sports fan even going so far as to memorize the heights of the majority of starting NBA players circa 2002. However, as I grew older I shook out of my trance-like state and realize there are far more important things that I need to do with my time.
I believe the best remedy to this problem of being a spectator is to remove the distractions, as I mentioned in a previous article, and then start taking action. The simple result of just mindfully choosing what to do this will give you the feeling of immense personal power. Think of something you have always wanted to do and make a plan to do it, even just one experience could change the course of you entire life. If you are not sure what to do, just make plans to connect with other people who may have the same interests as you. Personally, the most fulling thing I can do is to find a way to teach others important things, just because I will always be a student doesn’t mean that I can’t be a teacher to someone.