It is interesting to me that we try to be creatures of habit. I mean, we really try, we spend our entire lives trying to set up the next thing. Stability is defined in terms of how secure tomorrow is: how well you can predict the direction of your future.
It starts with your immediate future, the rest of the day, the next week, the next month. Maybe it starts now, at twenty-two, or maybe it started at fourteen when I started preparing for college in my freshman year of high school. But right now I can’t even foresee what will happen in the fall (though I will not hesitate to tell you eagerly what I will be doing in ten years).
A lot of people would be incredibly anxious in this scenario, and of course there are reasons to want to establish stability. Stability means the ability to support yourself, and your family, to be autonomous, to have some money in case of emergency, or to purchase the things that make life more comfortable.
What does all of that stability do to our experience of life, though? What happens when we wake up every day knowing how it will go, beginning middle and end? Every person on the surface of this dot that is our earth, each one, has a unique existence or perspective; a worldview that changes over the course of a lifetime.
There is a plethora of different experiences of this world, yet if your life becomes stable so does your experience; so does your perspective. The gradual change brought on by age and those unforeseen hiccups along the road, those are perspective-altering. But the rate of change is slow; it is a passive, begrudging acceptance of change.
Every time your life gets shook up, every time there is a turn in the bend, every time you travel, get a new job, meet a new person— every time you see a new perspective, you get the opportunity to see from a new perspective.
This takes effort. And it takes money. And to make money while being in perpetual motion is a feat in itself. But for someone that has even the slimmest opportunity of making an ever-changing lifestyle a possibility, squandering that opportunity is philosophically wasteful. A lot of people sacrifice life because living is hard. If you can live life instead, do that.
As I sit here writing at five-thirty in the morning, I am trying not even to think about what I will be doing in the next hour. If I start to lay out my day my brain will devote energy to practicality over poetry. I cannot think my thoughts because they get interrupted by the things I have to do, things I have to keep track of, errands I have to run.
But a To-Do list doesn’t have to be thought about every hour of every day: that’s why it’s on paper. I can afford to get up an hour early, make a mug of coffee, and think only about the words on this page until the sun rises. And even then I have some time yet.
Yes, I have a plan for the day, a plan to make a little money, a plan to sustain me for the next several months. In ten years I will be making feature films, the plan says. However, I won’t — don’t — spend every hour of every day executing that plan. If I spend half of my day doing that, anxiety seeps in. Restlessness.
When I get money, it gets spent on experience. It goes to travel, photography, filmmaking, books, movies... and maybe too much coffee. These are all investments in a future that I hope not to be able to predict. Rather than have a stable job and life routine, I am looking for stability in the form of a fairly constant rate of change. It is more valuable to me to put time, energy, and money into developing my philosophy of the world.
Even a clockwork-esque routine can only last a lifetime, and a lifetime is not very long.
Sure, my eyes are young and shiny and hopeful. If I work hard enough, I can keep them that way.