Launching “Live, Learn, Laugh, and Love”

The first single from Steve McAlphabet and the Wandering Soul Band has been released to the world! Since little has been done to market it, I do not expect it to be an overnight sensation. However, I find myself with 16 songs to release once every 3 weeks, so I do see the possibility of gaining some momentum becoming a sensation by the end of the year. In the meantime, all I really wanna do is “Live, Learn, Laugh, and Love”.

I do think that the song speaks to the times we are in, and probably touches on the sentiments of those participating in the Great Resignation. While many may find it a bit anti-establishment and rebellious, at its core, the song is driving toward the same four goals that Stephen Covey, Ken Wilber, and plenty of other leading edge thinkers have recognized as they have studied the habits of humans and what our true motivations are. Ultimately, I think the song is an anthem for the return of our humanity.

Given that the song was my 12th to be written during my 2020 challenge to write a new song every month, I wanted it to be a big picture kind of song. Since Stephen Covey had taught me that the four key goals all humans share are the desires to live, love, learn, and leave a legacy, given the health benefits of laughter on heart, mind, body, and spirit (and because it flows better lyrically), I started writing the song with the concept “live, learn, laugh, and love”. In one of Ken Wilber’s most recent books, Trump and a Post-Truth World, he states that opening to an integral worldview and moving beyond the limitations of our current scenario (as I see happening through ABC Squared Economics), we are given the opportunity to Show Up (and fully Live), Grow Up (Learn what gift a life really is as we grow through both failure and success), Wake Up (laugh at ourselves for the illusions we get caught up in and move on), and Clean Up (live in the Love that is our birthright).

In its three verses, the song looks at the aspects of society that compel us to spend our time and energy on activities that many people find not only worthless pursuits, but also as impediments to our greater goodness. As we move out of the Industrial Age and into a time when people are no longer demanded to work for 40 hours a week, we are rethinking the definition of the word “work” altogether. I think it’s important, as we release the things we don’t want, that we clearly articulate what it is we actually do want and realize it takes work to live, learn, laugh, and love, and that can be a beautiful, enjoyable, purposeful, meaningful thing.

     There seems to be a tendency to guarantee we all be busy

It’s really interesting that so much of our political discourse, at least in my life, has been about the creation of jobs. Of course, that’s been perpetuated over the last century through the consumer culture of disposability. I hope that as we move back toward being better citizens instead of merely consumers we also find greater importance in creating good work rather than merely creating jobs. I also hope that as we move into the age of automation, we incorporate some washing and reusing things into all of our saved time instead of throwing things away after a single use.

     We hurry and scurry, all in a flurry we race

If there is anything positive to come from the pandemic (and I believe there were quite a few positive things), it was that a lot of us got to slow down. We didn’t have to commute to work. We got to spend a little more time on self-care. And we realized that we didn’t want to go back to grinding.

     We consume and balloon, we produce so much it makes us dizzy

The amount of waste we create really is dizzying. I realize there is an ideological movement that wants to believe that the Industrial Revolution had absolutely no consequences or negative repercussions (largely because it would disconcert their comfortable reliance on what its practices afford them and they are afraid of change), but there is a growing awareness that as we support a system that perpetuates disposability, we make ourselves disposable. As we turn the world to garbage, so it is that we become.

     Under the assumption our assumption will not go to waste

Do people still chase the American Dream? Is that still a thing? For a lot of people, they’ve had more experience with being in the American Nightmare. But I think down deep, each of us believes, or at least wants to believe, that we will be rewarded for our contributions to life. Whether it’s supporting our government, investing in a home or community, starting a business, or building a nest egg, we all want to believe that as we care, we will be cared for.

     To be free, we all need to get on our knees and feed the economy

With our obsession over the growth of the GDP being the supreme yardstick by which to measure success, our society has been lulled into the fundamental belief that our goodness as a people is proportionate to how much of our time, energy, and resources can be turned into money and absorbed by the greediest of us. Perhaps we should reconsider our definition of success and start taking some other measurements among the Core Economy, the Planetary Economy, and the Gift Economy instead of only entertaining the whims of the Market Economy.

     We got to grow, go with the flow, put on a show, and keep on being devotees

Most of us don’t have the time, energy, or expertise to tackle some of the bigger issues that face the world. We do the best we can with what we’ve got, and just try to not rock the boat. We don’t want to bite the hands that feed us, and we’re aware that living the lives we’re living makes a big mess, but it’s the only life we know. And all things considered, human civilization as we know it has produced some pretty amazing stuff.

     We gotta drill, mine those hills, push, pool, and shove

Our way of doing things over the last 10,000 years or so has largely been moved forward by competition. It also took a lot of collaboration to make things unfold, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes forced, as we have evolved from small bands of warring tribes through nation / state battles to the time when fewer people are dying of war than any other previous generation and more people are dying from suicide than homicide. Yet we have found all sorts of new ways to compete, and on that we continue to collaborate.

     But all I really want to do is live, learn, laugh, and love

Isn’t that the essence of what all this is for? Just as little boys start wrestling as soon as they’re able, competition is just part of the human dynamic and part of the lives we live. But the more we can live out our competitive tendencies while minimizing violence and unnecessary suffering by realizing better ways to live collaboratively, the more we also get to learn, laugh, and love.

     They tell me to pick my team, my nominee, and concede to their rules

While I appreciate the advance in democracy that the United States served nearly 250 years ago, that our system is still modeled on the juvenile notion of a two-party system in such a melting pot culture should bring shame to all of us. My two least favorite foods are beets and canned green peas, and it seems like every time this antiquated system offers up their two corporate champions for me to vote for, it’s like I’m being asked whether I’d rather eat beets or canned green peas for the next four years. I’m looking forward to seeing the changes that ranked choice voting will bring.

     Where we defeat ourselves, compete, mistreat, and beat each other red, white, black, and blue

The biggest problem with our two party system is that it is based on losing. The game of politics isn’t about how to create wins for the people, but to make losses for the other party. For fans trying to cheer on these teams, all we know to do is follow their example and tear one another apart. This good versus evil scenario is reportedly what got humankind kicked out of Paradise, and we’ve gone and turned it into the foundation of our democracy.

     We get all emotional over things we can’t control as we play the roles they approve

Instead of seeing one another as people anymore, we’re often tempted to merely see liberals or conservatives, Democrat or Republican. In playing these roles, we are also handed issues over which we should have consternation and set loose on one another like coked up roosters. We would all be very well served by practicing the art of letting shit go.

     To meet someone else’s goals and bargain with our souls, do we really win or do we lose?

As a society enmeshed in marketing, it is often hard to tell why we want the things we want, whether they are actually the desires of our souls or something we saw in a commercial. A good chunk of what many of us spend our time and energy on is designed to increase the wealth of the wealthy, and we have to sacrifice a lot more than many of us want to admit in order to make that happen. Is it really worth it or could we consider some other sorts of sacrifices?

     I don’t want to fight just to prove my might and beat my chest

I generally don’t engage with people who actively use the words “conservative” and “liberal”, at least not when that is the subject of the conversation. (Fortunately, there are all sorts of other fascinating things in the world to talk about.) But I’ve never been much of a sports fan either. I suppose I just never felt all that inclined to make someone else a loser so that I could be a winner. I’d rather just do cool shit and be on my way.

     I don’t need the extremes of these teams who need to prove they’re the best

One of the biggest challenges with having a political system based on extremist competition is that every year (or at least every election), half of the population must become losers so that the other half can pretend to be winners. Unfortunately, since so much of the exercise is just about the game and the ego aggrandizement that comes with it, we’re all actually losers.

     I don’t need to crow, overthrow those below so I can be above

Sometimes it seems like our political system is little more than a game of King of the Hill, where the only point to the game is to knock the other players down so we can feel superior. It’s just become so easy to dismiss people as merely “libtards” or “trumpers” instead of seeing who they really are and what they’re really about. In this system, they’re just the people we have to tear down so we can feel good about ourselves. In the meantime, we relinquish the better world that awaits us.

     All I really want to do is live, learn, laugh, and love

If we had four parties instead of two, would we be more or less divisive? What if we had no parties at all? What if we saved parties for when the work was over and instead just made our public servants do their jobs?

     I want to live each day as if it is its own

Any spiritual teacher worth their salt will tell you that the past and present don’t really exist, and can only be experienced as memories or ideas in the eternal Now. Since this moment is all that there is, I want to live here and be grateful for it.

     I want to learn all the things I thought I’d know when I was grown

How fortunate we are to live at the tail end of the Information Revolution! It’s a pretty amazing thing that I can educate myself about any subject I want in a matter of moments. Granted, that does increase the risk of rabbit holes and misinformation, but what an amazing time to live in which any research we desire is at our fingertips, or often at the request of only our voice.

     I want to laugh at my folly and not be afraid of the unknown

We all need to get better at laughing at ourselves. We are one of the silliest species on this planet, and the fact that we don’t recognize that more often is one of the greatest tragedies in the universe. If we didn’t take ourselves so seriously all the time, our laughter would make us healthier than we can even imagine. Unfortunately, most of us have been too well trained to be fearful to allow such liberty through levity.

     I want to love whomever I’m with even if I’m all alone

It’s a beautiful thing to have relationships and tribes, people we can love and support, and who will love and support us back. We could all benefit from loving ourselves more, and as we give ourselves permission to forgive ourselves for whatever the voices in our heads like to punish us for, we’ll also be able to extend that forgiveness to people we never thought we’d be able to love. Love is the most powerful tool at our disposal, yet we’ve been led to believe it is a sign of weakness.

     We’ve agreed that our deeds will proceed to meet our needs

Most people are pretty satisfied with the scenario where as long as we feed the system, the system will feed us. However, we are approaching times where more and more of us are getting a bit leery of how much longer that’s going to work.

     And all that we do as we fuss, cuss, and fume to receive

As we are waiting for the generosity of the system to trickle down and take care of us, we find all sorts of things to wrestle with each other about. Some of that is due to the fact that we are humans, and that is indeed part of the growth progress as we reach maturity through struggle. But some of it is also manufactured to keep us preoccupied while we are being taken advantage of.

     Our piece of the pie though it’s high in the sky out of our reach

For as much as we all would love to benefit from the contributions we make to the system that seemingly runs things, and even though this generation does have more millionaires than any that have proceeded it, with the billionaire class getting such a large percentage of all of the money produced from our excess activity, some of us feel like we’re getting the short end of the stick, and some of us feel like we’re getting beaten with it.

     As we concede to appease the creed to feed the greediest

With Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations being released the same year as the Declaration of Independence, it has arguably just as much influence on our development, if not more. With that comes the notion that humans are selfish and that our selfishness drives economic growth. Unfortunately, by embracing this ideology, we have seemingly come to honor selfishness and greed as the highest virtues and those who practice such competencies as the most greatly rewarded.

     But I don’t feel compelled to offer help to build a wealth of stuff

Materialism is fine as long as the material is actually appreciated and honored. However, I’m not too keen on the materialism wherein our activity is merely designed to turn as much material into trash as possible. I prefer experience over indulgence.

     I understand the demand to plan, expand, advance, and crush

As we’re all programmed to be the most selfish individuals we can be and get as much for ourselves as we can, we are compelled to contribute to the “crush it” culture. Obviously, this can have its virtues as we are pushed to reach further than we may have under our own volition. While ambition can be very helpful for setting a goal to strive for, our desire to crush it can also cause us to crush a lot of unintended things as well, including the dreams of others.

     But I don’t need to be the bourgeoisie, my life fits me like a glove

Fortunately for me, I don’t really have those proclivities, and I’m secure enough in myself that I don’t need to lord it over others or knock them down to make myself seem superior. But I understand that other people still need to and patiently wait for our evolution to continue our development. And in the meantime…

All I really want to do is live learn laugh and love