“I feel in this time…it is a necessity to have a plan, a manifesto, an alternative. It’s a question of life and death for our species…after tragedies one has to invent a new world, knit it or embroider, make it up. It’s not gonna be given to you because you deserve it, it doesn’t work that way. You have to imagine something that doesn’t exist and dig a cave into the future and demand space.” - Bjork
I think to thrive, you need a plan on two different levels. The first plan is what Bjork could mean - a future scenario that you inhabit with dignity and confidence, that the world values, and you yourself cherish. You have to have an aim, or you risk walking in circles. Now the second level informs the first - and it’s simply that: you can’t take this aim too seriously. I’m not saying don’t do whatever it takes, but do it while understanding what underlies it all. Let’s explore.
“It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little” -Diogenes
Want little, except for the flourishing of your fellow man. If you can work out a way to live true to yourself, and help others - you’ve succeeded in the first plan. If you can then find a way to extract a moment-to-moment satisfaction out of existence, then you’ve ascended.
“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you” - Leo Tolstoy
You glean this satisfaction from the little treasures of the moment. And the reason they are little treasures, is because of what Nina Simone so aptly points out.
“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did” -Nina Simone
It’s only beautiful, it’s only a disaster, it’s only challenging, it’s only a treasure - because it has the capacity to shift. We thought our way of life was normal, we forgot that it’s all changing. Understanding Nina’s words helps you live on two levels. Aiming at the ultimate, while understanding the fluidity of it all. This fluidity has a necessary entailment - sometimes it crumbles.
“By being back to square one constantly, we find lightheartedness in the ultimate sense. Such humor is not the regular, ordinary level of humour, as we usually understand it. In this case, the concept of humour is a sense of celebration.” -Chogyam Trungpa
So plan your future, take this time to dream the beautiful dream. But remember that square one is an okay place to be. And even more importantly - heed the words of Jack Kornfield. He wrote a book about the years he spent with twelve Buddhist meditation masters, and summarized the core teaching as such.
Nothing is worth holding onto
Remember this in your heart, and practice what Bhikkhu Analayo says is a summary of the most important form of early Buddhist meditation.
Keep calmly knowing change
May these last two quotes gift you peace of mind in a turbulent time.
It is as it is.