On Suffering, Fun and Air Balloons
Life is suffering.
That’s a pretty bleak statement, although mostly true, if not absolutely.
But being true does not mean being complete.
What’s the other side of the coin?
Fun and suffering are the two extremes of the same pole. Same thing, different degrees.
On a thermometer, suffering is the cold, and fun is hot. In the middle (or rather when the two poles meet their extreme), you get to experience both at the same time.
We spend most of our lives trying to heat the thermometer, to stay in this hot zone, relinquishing the cold. But adjusting to the scale of the universe, the cold is the baseline. The hot is the anomaly. Cold space with a hot sun. We all want to stay close to the sun.
So you’ve got your two poles: you’ve got fun and you’ve got suffering.
But that is still an incomplete assessment: if life is just suffering trampled by fun, why not perpetually engage in fun and immediately gratifying activities such as drugs, sex, and games? (Apart from the fact of course that such activities are short-lived and quickly become redundant if there is no diversity in the kind of activity).
What is still missing in the picture?
We all want to stay close to the sun in “Pursuit of Happiness”.
The verb is also rather important:
Rather than pursuing happiness, you are working to create a life of fun.
Creation. Pursuing vs Creation.
So what is missing?
Responsibility. Effort-driven, Focused Accountability.
Think of it that way: picture a Hot air Balloon.
The ground is the baseline: discomfort, and suffering. Beasts are lurking there, prowling and gnawing at you. The sky is fun. Pure unbridled fun where everything aligns, creativity is unleashed and the result of internal growth flourish.
You embark in the balloon, but you need fuel. That is responsibility, effort, and consistency. On the thermometer mentioned earlier, that would be the heat. The more fuel you put in, the better you manage it, and the longer you stay in the sky, although never indefinitely, for you need to go down to refill from time to time. And the ground is suffering. And this is where you get tougher and learn skills to improve your next flight. Each time you touch the ground, your main focus should be to improve your balloon.
It should be mentionned though that when doing activities such as drugs, it is like if you jumped very high into the air: it is faster than prepping the balloon, and you ascend more quickly, but you fall as fast as you ascended. You do not keep the monsters lurking on the ground at bay: at most, you distract them, but they still have you in their sight and they’ll pounce on you as soon as you touch the ground again. And the more you do it, again and again, the higher you jump, the harder you fall. You need to get into a balloon, if not to be in the sky then at least to avoid the beasts.
When you are in the air, some people are on the ground, be they refilling their own balloon or residing there permanently and living a grim existence, some will try to take your balloon down with rocks. No doubt that some will succeed, albeit temporarily.
Sometimes, your balloon will malfunction. Sometimes the gas will be insufficient or short-lived. Sometimes, your last repairs did not carry you as far as you think they’d do. And that’s all part of the game. Effort, diligent work, and responsibility would remain focused even then for it are at this moment that it is the most important: when you rebuild yourself and your balloon conscientiously.
I want to point out though, that by “work” and “effort” I do not mean the classic:
“Go work for a horrible boss, then when you have suffered for a week to earn enough money to spend it all on cheap fun during the weekend, go do that”.
That to me is why most people are miserable:
They work all their week, on the ground, on someone else’s balloon, all so that this other person will let them in one day, or worse lend them a trampoline to jump higher.
You must build your own balloon and not depend on someone else’s.
This may sound especially true for aspiring entrepreneurs, but building your balloon does not mean the same thing for everyone. This analogy has nothing to do with entrepreneurship or being an employee (although for many it will also fit).
Building your own balloon is being mindful of your lifestyle: it’s using the efforts and work to create a lifestyle that will bring you fun: the process might be suffering, feel like spiritual BDSM, or be fun. “Effort” is not suffering. Effort is the fuel, suffering is the ground. When you apply effort on the ground, you suffer. When you apply effort in the air, you have fun. Effort is just fuel.
You can have your own balloon and be an entrepreneur, you can have your own balloon and have a job. It has little to do with either. It’s not about the job.
It’s about suffering, fun, and effort. The rest is just circumstantial.
Building your balloon is about making the right choices to have a machine to act as a catalyst for your efforts. It is, again, the act of conscientiously and in every detail building a lifestyle that brings the fun.
When you experience fun apparently without cause, it’s because you are on the right track.
When you are next in the air, only cast a rope to someone temporarily to save them from the beast and teach them how you created your own balloon.