“The existence, the physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. It is best understood by analogy with music. Because music, as an art form, is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano.
Why? Music differs from, say, travel. When you travel, you’re trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concern just to hear one crashing chord; because that’s the end! Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room, because that’s where you should arrive. The whole point of dancing is the dance.
But, we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our everyday conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded; and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “come on, kitty, kitty,” and you go to kindergarten, and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade. And then come on, first grade leads to second grade, and so on. And then, you get out of grade school you got high school; and it’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college. And then graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school, you go out to join the world.
Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance, and they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re going to make that. And, all the time that “thing” is coming. It’s coming, it’s coming. That great “thing”. The success you’re working for.
Then when you wake up one day, about 40 years old, and you say “My god, I’ve arrived. I’m there!” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.
Look at the people who live to retire, to put those savings away. And then, when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left; there more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some senior citizens community.
We simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. We thought of life by analogy of a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end. And the thing was to get to that end. Success, or whatever it is; or, maybe heaven after you’re dead. But, we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing, or to dance, while the music was being played.” – Alan Watts