Making each day of your life into a function of the number of tasks you can get done I call “taskification.” It’s a bad idea. A bad idea that spread around the world.
The metaphysical picture? One’s life is one great plan or one monumental To Do List. Which is not only weird but genuinely misguided.
“But I have a lot to get done.” Who is the one who has a lot to get done? “I am.” Who is “I am”? Is “I am” the doer? “Yes, of course, I am the doer, the one who’s got a lot to get done. Can’t you see that?”
You conceive of yourself only, solely, exhaustively as a doer, the one behind the deeds, the one doing them. You conceive of a day as that which consists of a set of tasks–those to be completed, those not yet completed, those screaming for your attention but never getting it, and those, sadly you think, never to be completed. And you conceive of your life as one great To Do List. Once everything on the Bucket To Do List is crossed off, you feel you can die sated, knowing that there is no unfinished business.
“Yeah, so what?” Well, are you happy? Is your spirit ultimately satisfied? Can this really be the picture of an estimable human life? “I like the feeling of accomplishment, I’m happy enough sometimes, I really don’t like being idle, can’t stand having nothing to do, but, no, I’m not ultimately satisfied. I’m not even sure what that means or whether it means anything.”
You know no other life. Neither do those standing, racing, hurrying around you. Try going to a meditation hall or to a house of worship and then just sitting there. Or go there and ask, But who is the one always contemplating the doer of deeds?
“This sounds stupid and weird and spiritual.” It does, yes, but only to the one who has never admitted to himself that he’s already occasionally felt grace. You forgot that you did once. Grace is what may be revealed to the one who rests completely in the stillness of being.
Being an agent has its limits. Those limits are felt as ineradicable dissatisfaction.