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Posted by Philip on 8 April 2014, 8:02 am in , , , , ,

The lengths we have gone to get away from ourselves

I went to a play the other day. A lot of people had recommended it. It was good, a little long perhaps, but well-written, well-acted and well staged. Not life-changing though. I missed a sunny afternoon reading on the deck.

I went to a seminar the other day. The first two speakers were rather dull. The keynote speaker was egotistical and irritating. Definitely not life-changing. I missed another a sunny afternoon reading on the deck.

Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) was a farmer and philosopher who was born and raised on the Japanese island of Shikoku. He studied plant pathology and spent several years working as a customs inspector in Yokohama. While working there, at the age of 25, he had an inspiration that changed his life. He decided to quit his job, return to his home village and put his ideas into practice by applying them to agriculture. In 1975 he wrote The One-Straw Revolution, a best-selling book that described his life’s journey, his philosophy, and farming techniques.

He said, “Human beings are the only animals who have to work and I think it is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time.”

The actors in the play, the speakers at the seminar, all were working like crazy, at big, challenging, wonderful jobs. But the other side of the coin is that they were working for my entertainment, my education, my distraction.

It brought home something I’ve been noticing more and more lately, which is that everything in our culture — sport, entertainment, museums, cafés and restaurants, conferences, the internet — everything is designed to create the need for people to work to distract others from being with themselves. Sure they bring us together — and I'm not knocking that — but they also take us away from ourselves.

It makes me want to read more on the deck in the sun. Or maybe not read even. Just sit and live.

I’ll stop distracting you now and let you get back to yourself.

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