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Beyond the tyranny of hard work

The other day I was going through my calendar in the past ten years, searching for some things, and the more I browsed through it, the more shocked I felt, with memories rushing in. Namely, I used to work so much. I would give four to five training-days per week, with squeezing all the meetings, preparations, mediations, writing articles and handouts into the remaining time. I basically did not live – I worked, fed myself and I slept.

Consequentially I was completely knocked-out in illness twice a year for a week, of course always during national holidays, when there was time for such things. I never cancelled a training because of my illness. Once my then-wife drove me to the training in the morning and came to pick me up in the evening, as I was unable to drive myself. On another occasion I collapsed of exhaustion in the morning at the venue, just before starting a training, and they called the ambulance to take me to the hospital. In which I convinced everybody that I was perfectly fine, only to start my next training a couple of days later.

And the key thing here is that I felt really good about myself. What could possibly be a better way to live than to be slowly dying of work exhaustion, right? Greeting my friends with these survivalist expressions felt like acknowledging my own worth: “I am dead-tired. Wiped out. Completely drained. My head is falling off. I don’t know which way is up anymore. I am falling apart. My head is spinning. I am bone-tired…”

This tyranny of worshiping hard work apparently started with the agricultural revolution ten thousand or so years in history. From hunters and gatherers that were following the movements of the nature and living on the abundance it was providing, the farmers started to try to master the nature, which proved to be lots of work. And the paradigm emerged that you can only have things if you work and suffer a lot. No pain, no gain.

Now, we have all heard, I imagine, that apparently nobody ever regretted, on their deathbed, why they did not work even harder in life. Why they did not spend more time in office, in front of the computer. It seems that hard work is not something that necessarily brings meaning to our lives.

In the last year or so I have been living a very relaxed life, in a semi-sabbatical style, taking it really easy most of the time, and, oh boy, does my experience of it feel different. Full of inner spaciousness, ease, rest and consequentially time to meet life, to really meet it. Which brings more clarity into the question what would I like to celebrate on my death bed.

I would like to celebrate the sunsets I have melted in. The sunrises I have woken up to. The naked meetings I have had with other souls. The loving, heart melting moments of pure, innocent love. The conversations with stars. The moments of gratitude for the beauty of life. The times of wondering at this ever-emerging creation…

Yes, the stars are smiling at me all the time. Do I see this and do I take time to smile back?