For the past few months, I have had a half formed, wordless life philosophy rattling around in my head. A crude mishmash of transcendentalism, zen teachings, and quotes from VH1's best week ever, my pseudo-philosophy has been guiding me in my decisions and plans week to week. I just don't have a name for it.
Until today. Whilst I was sweating away on the elliptical this morning, reading an old issue of Shape magazine, there before my eyes in black and white was my own life philosophy, neatly spelled out and aptly named.
Now, I have heard of different cultures having simultaneously occurring discoveries thousands of miles apart. I have no reason to believe that the same could not happen on a personal level; two people who have never met have the same life epiphany! But I choose to believe that it cannot happen, anyway.
Some chippy with connections in the magazine publishing world snuck into my room when I was sleeping and stole my ideas right out of my head! Then she typed them up as her own and submitted them to Shape magazine for money! I was thinking of consulting my brother, the attorney, on how to deal with this until I realized that she was significantly more eloquent than I. Years could go by and I would never have coined the descriptive and succinct phrase "Voluntarily Shallow" as my life philosophy!
Yes, I know. "Voluntarily Shallow" does not sound like the ideal way to live your life. But hear me out: voluntarily shallow is not the easy way out that it sounds like. It's frickin' genius, if I do say so myself.
The basics of Voluntarily Shallow are as thus:
Shallow does not inherently mean dumb, materialistic, or obsessed with outward appearances. It simply means "not deep". I certainly have the intellectual capacity to sit around the house and read Nietche, watch foreign films, and have political discussions with my deep friends if I so chose. But what fun would that be? I'd much rather read chick-lit on the beach and watch the Dodgeball/ Zoolander double feature on TBS. I'll save my brain power for things that require brain power (like trying to figure out how to get my stupid printer to cooperate). In all other instances, fun trumps deep every time.
When looking back on past mistakes, it would be very easy to get stuck in an endless loop of guessing. If I had only done one thing different, would the outcome have been different? And if that outcome had been different, how would the future events have been altered? How would my life now be? What lessons can I learn from those past events and how can I apply those lessons to my life in the future? I COULD ponder all this OR -- I could just go for a run. Maybe I'm not learning anything about my past behaviors. Maybe I'm destined to repeat the same mistakes. Maybe I'm exceedingly un-self-aware. But I like running better. In all instances, physical trumps deep every time.
When looking at the state of the world, the country, the economy, etc, it would be very easy to become cynical. Cynicism pervades the deep crowd like mullets at a monster truck rally. However, I am voluntarily shallow, not deep. I can wholeheartedly declare that I am NOT cynical, but happy and hopeful. Maybe its a naive way to go through life, but its sure more fun.
To sum up: fun, physical, and happy, are the way to go, not deep. If there's ever any question in your mind, just search for the lowest common denominator. Or Ben Stiller.