There are many things that are annoying about being alive in the early 21st century. Like identity politics, phones, Donald Trump, call centres, franchises, entrepreneurs, almost every living celebrity, surveillance cameras, the police state in general, anything containing the word global, The Guardian, religious lunatics, modern football, ageing creaking knees, ageing creaking backs, ageing creaking anything, failing eyesight, the effects of gravity, the growing list of dead icons, the ever closer approach of the eternal void, Nigel bleeding Farage and his nemesis that arrogant old twat Jeane-Claude Juncker, and of course the hideous Americanisation of our language. However, all of this pales into insignificance compared with the sheer grating horror that is “Mindfulness.”
Mindfulness is a patronising distillation of complex oriental philosophies into a ready-made-world- view –to- go for the modern western consumer, anxious to recharge the old batteries while maintaining the essence of the lifestyle that has drained them in the first place. It is a metaphorical sprinkling of eastern spices on the greasy hamburger of life, a fat dollop of esoteric wisdom for the terminally unwise. And it is everywhere. Mindfulness basically holds that as much as possible we should all be in thrall to the present, and that we should engage with our actions in such a way that….well, in such a way that we do everything very slowly while thinking about it a lot. I imagine many of the people dawdling along the streets of Madrid, blocking the pavements for those of us who are in a hurry, are indulging in some form of mindfulness. Likewise those enemies of the people who stand on the left hand side of the escalator, communing in low gear with the universe, and driving those of us who are happy enough to just get on with life into a cold murderous fury. As with most half-baked 21st century thought it is inherently narcissistic, as if the main problem with contemporary western society were a lack of self-centredness. It is perhaps surprising that it seems to have seized the collective imagination of people who like to think of themselves as egalitarian progressives. But then ultimately Mindfulness is a socially acceptable way for shallow arty types to place themselves at the centre of the universe while the neo- liberal madness continues to rain down upon us all from above. Never mind the collapse of civic society. Let’s all disappear up the khyber pass of enlightenment.
The word alone is irritating enough, and the irritation factor quadruples when used in conjunction with the word “coach.” These overly healthy smug purveyors of happiness for the price of a monthly subscription attempt to reduce everything to the level of the individual experience. People it seems are unfulfilled not because they have no job or nowhere to live, or because of failing public services, falling real wages, zero hours contracts, the collective triumph of evil corporate oligarchs, oncoming global ecological meltdown, or simply not having much of a future in general, but instead because they are not sufficiently engaged with the existential experience of sipping camomile tea. It is an ostrich like retreat into me, me, me, me. Proponents of mindfulness will say that I have misunderstood it, but actually I haven’t.
So, as an alternative to this pseudo spiritual bollocks for the feeble minded, I propose that we embrace an entirely different philosophy, namely Mindlessness. It is my belief that we are actually happier when involved in genuinely mindless behaviour. Children do not sit around contemplating vases or sunsets. They run around like mad little bastards having fun. Most of the best times in your life are to be had when you cease to engage with yourself and instead have a laugh with your mates, preferably without much regard for your own immediate well-being. That’s why getting pissed is so rewarding, although as one gets older the zen nature of drunkenness does seem to come at a terrible price, but then historically this has been the case with all stages on the path to enlightenment. There is ultimately no better philosophy than “fuck it.” Moving on is always better than staying where you are. The present is unattainable, partly because we process the world through a delay, and partly because it is in our nature to revisit the past and to relish the future. Who wants to sit at a metaphorical bus stop savouring the non-arrival of the metaphorical bus? And so dear reader, I urge you to break away from the shackles of contemplation, to free yourself from the tenuous connection between mind and body, to resist your inevitably doomed attempts to relate to the cosmic vibe, and instead to greet every new day as mindlessly as you can. Life is short. And pointless. So you might as well get on with it.