Overall, I really enjoyed this work. I appreciated how it emphasized that in order to find and experience inner peace and tranquility you have to live in the present moment because that’s all you have. If you’re feeling regret, you’re living in the past and if you’re feeling anxious you’re living in the future and not fully experiencing what’s going on in front of you.
The only thing that sort of bothered me about the work was when it talked about just observing and being aware that you’re aware. In some ways it seemed to be arguing that there is a disconnect (or you can make a one) between the essence of “you” (consciousness) and what you experience. I want to fully experience life. I don’t want to think of me as an untouchable observer in the “back seat” as life passes by me like a movie. I don’t think Singer argues for passivity in life, but during some of the explanations about awareness of consciousness it seemed sort of close to that. Or that’s how I took it.
Other pieces that didn’t sit quite right with me were quotes like this:
You have no concepts, no hopes, no dreams, no beliefs, and no security. You are no longer building mental models of what’s going on, but life is going on anyway. You are perfectly comfortable just being aware of it.
It seems like you’re some sort of brainless amoeba, just drifting through life. How is there joy in that? How is that human? I didn’t like the image the conjured for me. This sort of bothered me because it seemed to imply that in order to be at peace you have to not want or desire anything. I’m not sure that is humanly possible. Maybe there’s a balance somewhere in between where you can acknowledge that a lot is out of your control, but you can still take actions to infuence your environment and you can act and achieve goals?
I like to think that there is a point to your life and the experiences that are put in front of you. You can always learn something about yourself from every experience you have. Some quotes in this work such as something to effect of “you’re just on a planet spinning through space” alludes to nothing really mattering. That bothered me. I like to think that there is a lot of meaning to be gained from experience. Not that my experiences are the ONLY thing that shapes me, but I think one of life’s purposes is to grow spiritually, mentally, etc, and we do that by way of experiences.
Blocked energry was a very useful concept for me as it talked about how things that keep coming up, like worries or past events do so because you haven’t allowed them to be processed/let go of them. This gets in the way of you enjoying the present. Absolutely.
Lastly, I will say that the chapter on death was wonderful. It essentially invited you to think about how you would live your life if you knew you only had one week left . It encouraged you to live as if you only had one week, always. How might my life be different? I would write more. So I’ve been trying to write more. Other than that, I feel pretty at peace with everything.
I really appreciated this work. Even though I didn’t connect or agree with everything, I definitely will incorporate bits and pieces into my life. Definitely worth a read. It’s short and Singer explains potentially confusing concepts in an easy to process way.