Thoughts on The Word Productivity and What it Means to be Productive

I'd like to vaguely rail on the absolutely, unimaginably mountainous, pile of horse shit that is the general sentiment behind the idea of, 'productivity,' as it currently seems (to me) to be, in at least the western world; and by association, much of the eastern world.

Over the last few years I've stumbled on to Joe Rogan and his podcast. Generally I have no problems with him, for the most part; but, I really only give a shit about the intellectuals he interviews, and even the vast majority of them, as of late, are increasingly intolerable to listen to. Just off my bookshelf alone, and due to laziness, I can list people such as: Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Thomas Szasz, R. D. Lang, Erwin Schrodinger, Carl Hart. These are people I can consider well worth reading; and they are truly noteworthy intellectuals. They have contributed unique and novel insights to humanity. Were they, productive, people; I guess you could say so. However, when I hear the word, productive, today, NONE, of what I see, comes even close to the kind of creativity, originality, and courageousness, among other qualities, I have experienced, even if only in printed word, from these scholars.

Fuck productivity, I say. I have worked, on and off, in retail settings for the last decade. I've watched zoned out people, stuff their faces with food, while they shop for more food. I've seen, small mountains, of piled up, old discarded products, awaiting processing to be resold or scrapped in some way. I've literally stared, motionless, for 15 minutes at a time, after a shift, just reconciling myself to reality, after a days work (I've seen others do the same; and many have it far worse than I've ever experienced). The depths of the mind-numbing repetitive motions, unbelievably basal human behavior, and border-line if not actual abuse, leveled upon workers in these commercial circuits, is at the least, difficult to imagine.

This is just ONE story, of many, in the woeful book of the ends of the means of our mis-understanding of, productivity, as I see it employed today. Millions upon millions of, 'shoppers,' filling their carts, or now, 'digital,' carts, with more and more products. I'm not above enjoying a purchase, spending what little money I have on something I don't need, or thinking that somehow, that thing I am buying, will fill that empty void in my life; but, there are those who take it to a whole new level. To hell with that whole game.

I'm not a linguist; but, I'll try to come to terms with the word, 'productive.' Product-ive, comes from product, which is not far removed from it's Latin derivative, 'prōductum,' which defines a, 'thing,' which has been produced. The word, 'produce,' stems from the Latin, 'prōdūcere,' (I've no idea what the extra symbols mean; but, it'd be neat to know, to aid in pronunciation) which, again, according to means to, 'lead or bring forward, etc....' So, in the general sense and meaning of the word, by being, 'productive,' we intend to, 'bring something forth.' If I were to grow and tend to a rose bush, cut fresh roses from that bush, arrange them in a bundle, and set a price on them and put them in the window for sale; I have brought forward fresh cut roses. I have, produced, a bouquet of roses. So, in the, general sense, of the word, I have no qualms with, 'productivity.' It's a quality of the human being to produce things from time to time; either by necessity, or other reasons, it's a human tendency to produce things. The problem is when the general sense of, moderation, is not a virtue employed by many people; such that, the world has been filled with mountainous piles of horse shit: the so called, products, of our productivity.

An endless stream of bullshit products, itself, isn't even that terrible of a thing. The awful thing about it, is what would be implied, if modern civilization were to suddenly come to a grinding halt. If we were brought back to a time where we had to rely on candles for lighting, paper for writing, and tools for farming, hunting, and construction; what do you think we'd feel as we sift through garbage dumps and find some of our common household bullshit? How much of those products, in that setting, could we employ to further, productive, ends? How much of that stuff could we employ towards being sheltered, having food to eat, and perhaps enjoying any down time? At any rate, that's not so much the point; but, it's interesting to ponder.

What is implied by all this, utterly useless, at best, productivity, is the real problem. I find it abhorrently offensive, that there are living human beings, who's honest living wage is derived from this culture of, endless productivity. I won't even call it an economy. I think that's offensive. The stock holders, the CEO's, the CFO's, the Vice Prezes, all those people who hold high positions in these companies, the people who buy this awful shit, the damage it does to the ecosystem, people's well being, etc.. I can't even begin to put a drop in the bucket of how insanely large that world is. And at the end of the day, what is it all for, except for adding to our general collective misery and discontent with our confused and befuddled lives?

That is why I say fuck being productive and anyone who is interested in doing so, is absolutely self-deluded. Some people are oblivious, or it doesn't bother them too much; but, generally people are uneasy at best, miserable, or at the worst, hanging on for dear life. And people wonder what the fucking problem is? They think to themselves, "if only I was more productive." If only you were more productive, you too, could have a net-worth of over one million dollars, a little bit of fame and recognition, and the comfort to not deal with the reality you can barely cope with.

Have you ever seen a homeless woman, wailing, with tears in her eyes, outside of a mall's movie theater, while dumbstruck managers and security personnel call the authorities to remove the unsightly seen she's making; while they stand around like idiots, wishing they knew what the fuck to do to help this human being, this soul, that has clearly, absolutely, had enough? I have. It's terrible. And that's the tip of the iceberg. Most of us just silently suffer and manage to keep our heads above water some how, wishing we were in one of those nice boats the people who have it good seem to have.

And some people do have it good. They'll tell you. They'll let you know. Some of those folks are awesome, decent people, that should not be envied or held in contempt of any kind. They've just had fortune on their side, and/or a good wit about them, a good attitude, ethic, and approach perhaps. But, some, just like the rest of us, are still, 'part of the game', as much as anyone else. You'll know it when they tell you to buy their next book, check out their sponsor, or how great they think X, Y, and Z products are. That's the way it is; but, it's beside the point.

My point is, I'm tired of this culture's idea of, productivity, and the importance it places on it. Fuck the gym, fuck, 'mental health,' whatever the fuck that is, fuck plastic clothes, fuck all of this, 'productivity,' bullshit. We're all going to meet our end some day. It doesn't matter how much you exercise you do. It doesn't matter how much insurance you have. It doesn't matter what your credit score is. It doesn't matter how healthy you are. It doesn't matter what vitamins you take. It doesn't matter how much yoga you do. It doesn't matter how spiritual you become. Productivity won't save you, and it probably won't even make you a better person. Most likely, it's going to delude you into thinking some how you can improve yourself or your situation. When all you are really going to do, if you have any, 'success,' at all, as defined by the current norms, is just feed more into the system that's causing all the problems in the first place.

Now, don't get me wrong. Meditation, yoga, exercise, spiritual pursuits, keeping up with one's health, and all that crap, is FINE, in it's place. However, what you'll often find is that, science and psychology, 'recommend,' meditation, because it'll help you to be, what now? It'll help you to be, more productive. That's the problem I'm talking about. It's as if we're banging ourselves over the heads just so we can see the doctor. Nothing is off limits for these assholes. They will sell you on meditation, cleanses, spiritual healing, yoga, hot yoga (cold yoga?), therapy, self-help. Again, you find yourself in the same world of absolute utter bullshit. Again, you are back in the trap of endless productivity.

You are exercising to increase your over all health, so you can be what? More healthy? More productive? You meditate to elevate your mind, decrease your stress, raise your awareness, so you can what? Be more productive? So what do you do? You buy a gym membership? That'll fix things; will it not? You purchase a book on how to meditate, or buy a ticket to a seminar! That'll fix your broken fucked up life, won't it? Sure it will. And you'll be on your way to that essential productivity that leads to success and happiness. Except it won't (maybe for one out of one hundred people it may offer a door out; but, it's just a door to a new room set up the same way; after you adjust, it's the same situation.) Why? Because the very pursuit of those things is the source of all the problems and unhappiness to begin with.

I want you to do something right now, if you will. Imagine a beautiful ocean-side beach. Imagine there is nothing but sand for miles. You're not alone on the beach; but, it isn't crowded. The weather is warm; but, there is a cool breeze. You are at the water's edge. The waves are a bit rough, but there is a calm to the repetitive clashing of water waves meeting with the sand. There are some seagulls overhead, doing seagull type stuff. You look out into the horizon and all you can see is endless ocean. Your vision can go no farther than that. Your bare feet are dipped into the soggy wet sand of the shore line. As the waves come, they crash up over your bare feet and legs, rocking your center of balance ever so slightly as the water steals the sand from under you. You aren't alone, you are with some one special, just one person. Who is that person? Is it some one you know? Is it some kind of person you'd like to be associated with, or wish could be with you? Is it some one from your past, present, or some one you haven't met yet? Who is it? Or upon that thought do you prefer solitude? Are you alone, enjoying and relishing some solace?

If you followed along in that, what you used is called your, imagination. Wasn't that so much more pleasant than all the time in the last week you've spent, or tried spending, being, 'productive.' And that was just a few seconds. Another force, that has close ties to imagination, is creativity. When I was a child, I used to pit little plastic dinosaurs against one another in Street Fighter type fights (A child of the 80's and early 90's). Sure, those little plastic dinosaurs were the products of some one's, 'productivity;' but, what they became were instruments of my creativity, my imagination. And what was the result? Enjoyment. That glorious thing we all so desperately want, and find in such short supply, once we reach that age where, 'productivity,' somehow becomes so important.

So why do we put ourselves through such awful shit, to the point we convince ourselves, if other people aren't suffering the same hell we are, there is either something wrong with them, or they have, 'another thing coming?' Ultimately, we all wrestle with our immortality. Or, we are afraid to look foolish. Or, we are afraid of getting fired. The list goes on. The Universe It's Self, is hard enough to grapple with, some times. Somewhere along the line, some one, dented our soul with a swift kick (perhaps many, over time). What were they trying to impress upon us? The message was probably, "die a little (or a lot) inside, because there is no joy, going forward." There's a deadline and a bottom-line and you'd better get used to it! Who do you think you are anyway? You think you are some kind of vibrating, radiant, glorious, singular focal point of expression for the Universe? Of course not...

So how do you escape the trap? How do you escape the vicious cycle? How do you overcome the implications of your own mortality? I don't know. But, I do know, that if the world, as we know it, is going to end, and I also tell you to imagine a huge pink elephant, farting out a pink cloud of pink elephant fart dust, with a cheeky grin on it's on face; I've at least got you to use your imagination. You can buy a gym pass, pair of roller skates, or a bike, to, 'get in shape.' Maybe that will make you happy? Or you can realize that both of those creations, were the, 'product,' of, 'imagination.'

This society, at least right now, that we live in, is perpetually going to try to sell you on ONE idea and ONE idea alone. Whatever it, is, you don't have it; but, for a price, or enough effort, you too, can join the ranks of those who've, got it. And so long as you buy into that notion, so to speak, it'll always be one step ahead of you and out of reach. Have you ever seen a youngster on roller skates, not, having a good time, in general? If you have, my god, this situation is worse than I thought. Young folks are on roller skates because they can be quite fun. Maybe if you buy that gym pass, 'just to have fun,' then, 'getting in shape,' won't be so fucking awful, eh? It probably doesn't work that way. And if it did, I'd say you're most likely, coming at it from the wrong angle.

You have it already. It can't be bought. You won't find it in a store near you. It's not listed on Amazon. It isn't at the gym, the vitamin shop, the self-help book, the therapists chair. All of those things are okay, they exist for their reasons; but, don't be fooled, as everything is subject to being packaged, processed, shipped, and sold to you as that singular, thing, that will, 'set things right.' It doesn't work that way. And things can't go on like that forever anyway. Anyone who works long enough without getting paid, hopefully, and quite possibly inevitably (by way of analogy), is eventually going to say, to hell with this horse shit.

Productivity may allow you to find your nose, buried in a beautiful, fresh cut rose; but, it's not what made that rose grow, gave it it's scent, and put your sniffer in it. Productivity isn't what makes you smile, laugh, or feel loved. That world out there, that world that's trying to sell you on all those things you think you are missing in life, is hell bent and singular minded and would like you very much to not be aware, it would all come crashing down in an instant, if imagination and creativity weren't the foundational pillars propping it all up. And if it isn't busy trying to sell you on, 'products,' it's busy selling you on the, 'ideas,' of it's, 'productivity.' Don't be a sucker. Don't buy into it.

I hope this world isn't as it appears some times. Can people really be so completely unaware, and utterly devoid of the reality we are faced with? I'd like to imagine that, no, it is not so. It's just that we are all capable of being fooled from time to time; present company, included. Often, perahaps we want to be fooled. In the words of Bob Marley, "you can fool some of the people some of the time; but, you can't fool all da people all da time."

I'm just as lost as the next person, likely more so; but, at least I know this much. So, fuck productivity and the horse it rode in on and the shit they both, 'produce.' Use your imagination, get creative, and may a little bit of enjoyment and respite from the dread of the day-2-day, find you, and find you in abundance; and if not, at least a little bit, here and there, from time to time. Even just sitting around doing jack shit, some times, is probably better than what these, 'go-getters,' out there are forcing us to keep up with, some times.

Everyone thinks this meditation stuff is about inner healing, getting with the present, and improving themselves. Doesn't anyone ever stop to think that, maybe meditation is really about just getting the human animal to sit the fuck down, shut up, and get with the program for a little while? And that maybe, the, 'product,' of doing so, is what tends to lead to people, 'feeling better,' afterwards? It's sort of like deciding to stop and collect trash on the way to the store, only to realize your bag is full when you get there, and you don't really need any of that trash you were going to buy when you got there, because you've already got plenty!

I'm far from an expert on matters of Zen and Eastern thought. I'm also not railing against soap, modern medicine, personal hygiene products, and flat panel LCD screens, etc.. It can be quite nice to have nice things. It can be quite nice to be in good health and in good shape. It can be nice to employ and keep up with a discipline and activities, whether they produce things of value or not. The problem I'm speaking to, is the angle this culture comes at us, and as my guess, by reaction, the way we come at the world. It seems elementary, that if there is so much misfortune in this world, all these products and the productivity employed to produce them, must be a very large part of the problem. I see a whole lot of busy work, the way a wheel stuck in the mud spins and spins but gets nobody nowhere; and everyone's covered in mud for the effort.

How do we escape the trap? How do we escape the vicious cycles? I don’t know; but if you’re surrounded by water, it’s unlikely that grabbing fistfuls of water and trying to employ them to some use to help you get dry, will work out. Maybe, like a maze with no exit, eventually you just stop treating it like it’s a maze; and get on with things. Perhaps you come to find, there was no maze, you only made it out to be so. But, I don’t know. And I have it on high authority, that, that, isn't such a bad answer, some times.

Maybe there is nothing you can do about it. The stream of common sentiments is irresistible. Some times we enjoy a bit of slight of hand. We want to be fooled, from time to time. Perhaps we think that real, sustaining happiness, just isn't possible, so we might as well settle for less. What if that thing we are missing in life, isn't difficult or hard to come by? What if you don't have to stand on your hands and grind your ass into dust to get it? That sounds too good to be true, and maybe it is; but, if it is true... I don't know...

As for me, to hell with productivity, as it’s generally understood to be, these days. Some folks claim to work hard and play harder. Why does everything have to be so god damned hard? We can’t all be dicks all the time. I think good work is good enough, and a good fit for fair play. Those things are constructive, and worthy of respect. Maybe then we could all be a bit more playful with each other; and life wouldn’t be so god damned hard all the time.

I'm not saying, "don't be productive". It can be exquisitely beautiful, to employ one's imagination, to creative means, to produce, and bring forward, something of true beauty. If you want to work well, be in good physical shape, put and keep your ducks in a row, that's wonderful. What I'm saying is, we all want that better situation, tend to run around in circles, and at the end of the day, still, there is that homeless woman, wailing outside a mall somewhere, that she just can't take it anymore. Why for all our, productive means, do we still end up with such horrible ends?

We all have things we must do. Many of them we won't want to. But, why is there so much of that? What I'm saying is, we seem to be be putting a whole lot of effort into something that still, after all these many, many, years, for all the glory it produces, still comes up, very, very short, of the things that truly matter in this life. Is what you are producing genuine and sincere? Or is it just another means of that singular voice, pervasive in all of society, that tells you, "you're close, just one more thing, one more accomplishment, and you'll have it." Is it that voice of fear, just one of many, reminding you of how much you stand to lose if you don't keep up and shut up? That voice can fuck off.

The sun, the moon, the stars, and all the heavenly glory it imbues the earth with, isn't the product of so much of that, productivity; it's the envy of the foolish, that they may imitate it, control it, and subdue it. But perhaps if we are wise, we can see things for what they are; and maybe one day, the tyrany of have-not and gotta'-have will yield to the splendor that is and was always there, all along, right before us. And our creativity, imagination, sense of adventure, and perhaps a bit of the courage needed some times to employ them, will find Itself, in quite good company.

So what? So let's dance! Nice try Goat, nice try...