Are you spending your leisure time in the most productive manner, do you even think about it, and do you care? Questions raised after a trip to the smoke to see Marianne Williamson.
Three candles lit to honor those killed in the Parisian atrocities, burn brightly behind her. She is covered neck to toe in black. She is in mourning. The whole church is in mourning. The world is in mourning.
“How do we cultivate health?”
I don’t know.
“What is the problem?”
I’m not sure.
“How can you serve?”
I don’t have a clue.
“We are the stewards of the karmic nature of our nations. We are a collective field of miracle workers.”
I have traveled two and a half hours to listen to Marianne Williamson talk. I feel in limbo. I desperately want to understand with far more lucidity than I am currently experiencing. There is a naivety about me. I am still dumbstruck by this dystopian world.
“It’s time to step up. Don’t cry for a few days and then go back to sleep. We have been collectively diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Stay awake. We are an army of light.”
I feel like an army of one, and not a very smart one at that.
I love listening to great thought leaders. It’s a hobby I picked up from my virginal Burning Man experience. I visited Agape Spiritual Centre in Los Angeles and was vociferously violated in a wonderful way by the velocity of verve and vigor pouring out of the mouth of Michael Beckwith.
I am learning so much, and yet there is so much I don’t yet understand. I am back in time at the end of The Power of Now. I have just read something very special; only I am not spiritually mature enough to understand what it is?
Both Beckwith and Williamson talk about the need to implement spiritual practice on a daily basis. This is the route to enlightenment. This is understanding. This is learning. This is the best way to enroll in the army of light.
It’s not only Beckwith and Williamson who have grabbed my attention recently. The philosophical teachings of Theodor W. Adorno have recently struck a chord in my fertile fontanelle. He talks, amongst many things, about the psychological problems scattered around the Western world as a result of modern capitalism.
Adorno was interested in what the lower and middle class did in their spare time. He believed we were gripped by something he called ‘consumer culture’ and although he was banging on about these problems decades ago, I can’t help but notice similarities in my old stomping ground of the valleys, and the today’s poker bubble.
During my interviews with poker players, I try to reach the sediment of their growth and desire. I want to know what makes each clock tick? What are their eccentricities? Do they eat their snot or roll it into a ball and flick it into the air? Do they swallow their fingernail clippings? Do they scratch their ass and smell their fingers?
It’s not often that I hear of a sadomasochistic Dr Grey type hobby. It rarely gets that exciting. The standard answer to the ‘what do you do in your spare time’ question is, ‘I play poker,’ which is a German shepherd’s tail ahead of ‘I watch box sets with my partner.’
I know I am whitewashing the entire industry with a single broad brush of Tom Selleck top lip proportions. I also understand that to become a master of poker they are going to have to rack up 10,000 hours of play if they are going to put a smile on Malcolm Gladwell’s face, but this is the sound of the bells that ding-a-ling in my ears.
Before I found my way into the bubble, I lived in the South Wales Valleys. When we stopped working, we drank our wages and then puked them back up again.
It’s this apparent waste of our leisure time that bothered Adorno. I don’t even think pulling the legs off a wasp and watching it buzz around like a break-dancer doing an atrocious windmill would even constitute a positive use of our time in the eyes of the former member of the Frankfurt School.
Adorno would like us to spend our time reading about…well…people like Adorno. He would like us to learn about history, go to museums, and travel two and a half hours to listen to Marianne Williamson explain why the haters in the world have far more conviction that the rest of us.
I think he has a point.
A narwhal type point.
Why do we choose to waste our precious time sitting in front of the idiot box, snacking on processed food while ignoring the loved one sitting next to us? Why do we spend hours on end flicking through social media claptrap on our mobile phones as the electronic boxes of hell cause invisible vasectomies?
Another valid point that Adorno makes is that capitalism doesn’t sell us what we need.
We are spending our money on crap. Gucci shoes, Rolex watches and bullet-proof underpants. Super fast cars that can’t go super fast because the speed limit is 70 mph. It’s as if poker players have stumbled across a haystack made of gold.
It’s all a system of control.
The news, the radio, the TV, the advertisements, and social media pop up ads. They distract us. We forget who we are. We forget what our purpose is. We are confused. We are wandering around with the lights off. Hiding our real needs from view.
We need love, tenderness, understanding, space, empathy and community. Instead, we get a shot of curvaceous women walking out of the sea, before slamming our sub-conscious with a shot of tequila. The marketing mad men and women show us what we need – in this case, sex – and then we are sold something else entirely – in this case, a nasty case of liver poisoning.
It’s no wonder we are all lonely.
It’s no wonder the world is so fucked up.
“We are all whores.”
“We all want to be liked.”
I hear you.
I know I don’t understand half of what I heard tonight. I don’t know half of what I have read about Adorno. What I do know is my gut is telling me that they are both worth listening too.
I want to know how to cultivate health; I want to know what the problem is, and I want to know how I can serve?
I don’t know the answer yet, but I know I won’t find it in a box set.