July 13, Frankfurt am Main, HBF train station.
This place, also called the “Silicone Valley of Germany”, promised me a glance at the near future.
Comparing it to where I was 4 hours ago, it feels indeed like a different world.
I’m standing outside the station, frozen in a moment, taking it in with all my senses. My brain is running at all cylinders to process oodles of new info, my emotions go berserk.
Dry, lingering summer air with a coal mine smell further amplifies the electrifying feeling running through my body.
I see a strange world around. So strange that it’s hard to believe it’s reality. It reminds a movie scene…
Everywhere I look, I see dementors, sucking souls out of ordinary people. But these ones don’t look like dark, flying creatures. They don’t scare anybody off. No, these ones have neat and sophisticated appearance. They’ve taken the shape of well-meant, helpfull devices to cover their true intention: to isolate victims from the real world by pulling them deeper into virtual one.
In the quest to be connected to everybody, being everywhere, victims are becoming nobody, getting nowhere….
Turning sight at the station corner, a very different movie scene comes to my mind…
I see a bunch of urban campers, surrounded by trash and empty cans, one of them peeing his pants in a feeble position.
Nobody give a damn…
His buddies hunkered around a precious object, that draws attention of others, not fully toasted ones. Slowly, one by one, they are falling of to the ground.
Dementors are no match for “the precious object”. It has so much power, that victims are willing to betray friends and fight for the right to have it.
I look away with disgust.
If this is “the future”, I don’t want to live in it.
I’ve seen enough, getting out of here… But something inside of me resists to make the step. It feel like the “walk away” command from my brain didn’t reach my legs.
Or. There are two opposing commands fighting for control. I’m getting inquisitive for a minute… and then it snaps in place:
This is exactly what I had to see!
Every human is an addict. From the birth till death, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine drives our behavior. Without these brain chemicals, we wouldn’t do anything other than eat, drink and sleep. Indeed, we would still live in caves.
These brain chemicals create the feeling of pleasure that feels like a reward.
Drugs, alcohol, nicotine, sugar, carbohydrate rich foods, videogames, gambling, social media, shopping… These substances don’t create the feeling of pleasure on it’s own. They were enginered to release higly addictive dopamine which is “the pleasure juice”.
I look at the strangers again.
They are no different than I am. They just have their “pleasure juice” too often and without the effort.
Yes, we are outdoorsy folks. We live a completely different lifestyle. We spend a lot of time in the nature, riding bikes, climbing mountains, shredding pow, you name it. But it isn’t always sunshines and rainbows.
In fact, it rains a lot. Especially during autumn. During these days, we have a tendency to hunker down in our cozy living rooms with laptop, smartphone or whatever gets the pleasure juice running.
And saavy marketers know that.
We get stormed by ads that were scientifically engineered to sneak through our rational decision making systems. We end up piling gear on the top of gear. All while darting back and forth between the newest Instagram reels and other meaningless stuff that nibs from our well being.
We blow our credit cards, get unhappy, because there is always somebody better looking, and… seemingly happier.
In such fashion, it goes on and on… till the Christmas. The time of love, happiness and [required] giving.
In the quest to be seen as kind and generous, so we spend weeks in the search of the perfect gift. But in today’s society, one gift is not enough. We need to get a couple, for each member of the family.
However, we often screw up. Wrong color, size, or we miss their desire completely. To tell us “I don’t want it” would be socially unacceptable, so instead they say “thank you”.
As a result, 5 Billion forehead-tapping tons of returned gifts end up on landfills. And what about the food waste and air pollution created during these “days of love and happiness”?
Looks like the mother earth’s got handed the shaft… again.
Every human, living on this planet leaves traces of his existence. There’s no novelty in this statement.
The more civilized we get, the more pollution we create and the more of fossil fuels we use up. Nothing new here either…
But why it had ramped up so fast?
Welcome to the “the rat race”.
We are held captive in a constant battle to appear better than people around us. So we buy more gear, more expensive clothes, better cars, do cooler adventures, eat in upscale restaurants, all while making sure they can see us on Instagram.
We get so hooked up in that, that we blow all the money we have, even those we don’t have, to become just a little bit better than others.
Yet we forget an important part of equation: “they are doing exactly same thing”.
So this silent competition goes on and on, from paycheck to paycheck. With backs against the wall, we crawl through our lives collecting “drops of pleasure juice”.
New shoes [a drop here]. New bike [a couple of drops here]. Holiday in Italy [some more drops]. Yet between these drops of external happiness, there are long, grey times, full of depression and anxiety.
Looking at it from my perspective, there are two ways of living: outside-in and inside-out.
Outside in living is the modern, civilized, exciting way. By other words, The Rat Race. We’ve tried it and it led us to the way of being, where we feel more down than up.
The inside-out one is called: Stewardship
Seemingly boring, selfish and uncomfortable way. It’s not surprising that 99% percent of us tried the previous way first…
On the other hand, I don’t remember a single thing in my live that came as a result of being comfortable.
The truth is, stewardship is the only path to freedom and contentment.
Stewardship means helping others because we want to, not because of social pressures applied.
Stewardship is not being worried all the time, because we know, we’re standing on a strong foundation.
Stewardship is smiling because we feel happy inside, not because we should project happiness.
Stewardship is standing strong on our own, because we’ve got here thanks to hard work and discipline.
Yes, freedom and contentment comes after a great deal of sweat and tears.
There’s no manual to follow.
I can’t tell you how to achieve it, because I’m a sport addict just like you, who was in a Rat Race for too long. I’ve made a commitment to scratch my way out. So I’m scratching…
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I wanted to show it to you too.
It has never been the best time hunker down, buy a couple of good books and use these rainy days to work on your mind to flourish later.