The hardest question all people are forced to answer every day is this:

How shall I spend my minutes and hours?

The cult of productivity has lectured us about how much more we could get done with the time that we have, and almost all discussions of time and life have to do with measuring what we get out of it, and optimizing it to ‘get more’.

With our culture experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, burnout, and emptiness, it seems safe to say the cult of productivity has failed us, miserably. Productivity optimization has become a secular religion to replace the ‘protestant work ethic’ in our capitalist social economy. In other words, all of the horrors of religion without any of the hope.

If the path to happiness is tedious micromanagement of time, we certainly would see more people happy today than we do.

Instead, we see people stressed out, unfulfilled, worried about the state of the world, paralyzed in endless scrolling and binging — an escape from real, embodied life, a retreat from quality relationships.

These are the scripts we have been provided by our entertainment culture.

Want to have a good time?

Want to escape your problems?

Want to have career security?

There’s a script for everything. The only thing is they weren’t written for you. In fact, they weren’t written for any human at all. Our society’s scripts serve other interests, and most of those interests are responsible for the active destruction of our planet, the entrenchment of inequality, and the other seemingly insurmountable problems we collectively face.

As attractions and aversions change through the generations, the script-writers (mostly people who work in marketing & PR departments) try to keep up. They want the scripts to sound appealing, and fresh — but they’re really just a poor rehash of all the old scripts.

Marriage and family in the early 20s has been bumped to the 30s.

Large families have been replaced with smaller ones.

People are allowed to act younger for longer.

Basically all of the things that result in more consumption, fueling not only the social malaise of capitalism, but the ecological catastrophe of it as well.

Updating the scripts to encourage less waste, more recycling, less travel, etc., hardly changes the fundamental trajectory for us, both as a society and as individuals.

Our scripts are killing us.

The solution isn’t to write new ones, but to set fire to every last one of them.

Rather than life plans, we should have life relationships — and in the forging of those relationships, life-sustaining activities will emerge.

Rather than jobs and career, we should think in terms of constant learning, skill acquisition, and hack together opportunities to produce value that do not bind us traditional employment scripts.

Rather than seeking work and success as the source of all meaning, we must see that service to our natural world creates a sense of purpose that transcends the badges and trinkets of worldly achievement.

Relating without labels.
Working without compulsion.

Security through resilience.

These are the keys to living off-script, to waking every day and molding life into a form that is congruent with your personality and pleasing to your individual spirit.

How you spend your minutes and hours is how you will spend your life.

Would you rather be glued to Zoom calls and half-heartedly responding to emails from strangers, or lying in the sun with a friend or lover, feeling the wind on your faces?

The default position is the former. The latter requires a lot of effort. We are so far from natural living that it requires tremendous force to recuperate real, embodied life, and especially without sacrificing the comforts of modernity.

But it certainly can be done. There’s just no script for doing it.

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