Everything I Need to Know About Living Life I Learned from this YouTube Video
Let me tell you about a youtube video. It’s nothing special, just a short little thing about a tire rolling down a hill. There are millions of videos on youtube. Most of them are cat-related, and most of them are worthless. But every once in awhile you can stumble across something that can unexpectedly make you start looking at the world in a slightly different light.
Sure, that may be an overtly hyperbolic statement about the benefits of endless youtube streaming, but there’s this one video… I have to share it. You need to watch it. Because, and I’m not even kidding here, I think it shows us quite a bit about what it means to live a happier life.
The title of the video is as simple as the video itself: “Huge Tire Bouncing Downhill Into Lake.” It’s as self-explanatory a youtube video title as you’ll ever see. That’s all it is. A bunch of bored kids with nothing better to do that roll a huge ol’ tractor tire down a great big hill into a lake. But it’s so much more than that.
I don’t even remember how I heard about this video, but somewhere somebody was talking about it, and I went searching for it. And I’m so glad I did. I’ve watched it more times than I can count, and it still hasn’t lost its impact on me. I don’t know what it is about it, but in its brief minute and 20 seconds, it never ever fails to lift my spirits.
Let me try to explain it, because you’re probably thinking I’m not making much sense. We live in a society, and an age, where we’re strapped with levels of stress and anxiety all day, every day. Worries about jobs, money, health, happiness. We’re all trapped in a never-ending grind to keep up; we work our fingers (and souls) to the bone to make enough to have the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, to have the perfect car and the perfect clothes and the biggest TV, to make sure our kids are perfect in every sport and get perfect grades so they can get into the perfect school so they can get their very own perfect job so they can afford all the same shit for their own families someday…
I increasingly find myself asking ‘why?’ What’s all this for? Why are we, as a modern 21st century society, killing ourselves over what largely amounts to nothing but more and more and bigger and better stuff. For a long time, I thought it was because we were all trying to keep up with the Joneses. But that can’t be true; the Joneses don’t care one bit about me or my stuff. Why? Because they’re distracted in their own little bubbles of stress and worry and work overload trying to keep up with all the other Joneses. The bottom line is that none of this seems to be making us very happy.
We’re working ourselves to death, for too many hours each week, and when we’re done working and buying stuff we’ve got our eyes glued to our screens. I can’t drive anywhere anymore without seeing 9 out of 10 people in the cars around me staring at their phones instead of at the road. We’re killing ourselves with worry, and stress, and fear, and constant anxiety. We’re to the point where we’re distracted away from the things in life that previous generations were much more in tune with; I’ll go ahead and call them ‘the simple things.’
And this video hammers home to me a simple point: We don’t need all this anxiety and stress, and we certainly don’t need all this money in order to buy all this stuff. For thousands of generations, our ancestors lived happy lives without smartphones and big screen TVs and four-wheel-drive SUVs and backyard swimming pools. Sure, they lived short lives filled with disease and toil, I’m talking in a more idealized, romanticized fashion here. And I’m certainly not advocating getting rid of our indoor plumbing and electric lights, or even our smartphones and HDTVs. It’s all great…My point is that the Rat Race we’re all involved in in order to achieve this level of stuff is killing us. It’s killing our planet. It’s distracting us from living.
So when I stumbled across this short little video it hit me: this group of boys experience more happiness, more sheer joy, in just under a minute and a half than I’ve experienced in a long, long time, maybe ever. And it cost them nothing.
Here, check it out for yourself:
Do you see what I mean? I have no idea what the backstory is for this video. I don’t know where these boys are; it sounds like maybe South America somewhere, maybe Mexico, maybe Spain. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that I don’t understand a word they’re saying. All I need to know is that this group of teens, probably bored out of their skulls, found a great big tire, found a great big hill with a big ol’ lake at the bottom, put it all together, and had more fun than any piece of expensive electronics could ever provide. And it cost them nothing. (I’m guessing they didn’t pay for that tire. I don’t know where they got it; maybe they stole it from someone. Again, it doesn’t matter.)
The shrieks of laughter, the screams of joy, the cameraman giggling into the camera’s mic as the tire roller-coasters down the hill…the sheer delight over their glorious accomplishment..it’s priceless. I yearn for that kind of simple joy. We all yearn for this kind of joy. It’s why we’re all stressed and overworked all the time; we’re mistakenly searching for happiness in things, the more expensive the better. And we’re all suckers for it. Suckers to the corporations and governments that spend billions of dollars cramming advertising and messaging down our throats that if we only had just a little bit more, we’d be happier. We deserve it, they say. That $600 wristwatch is going to make everything better. If only your garage had one more stall, things would be alright. And you know what? It’s all bullshit. We don’t need it all. And it’s definitely not making us any happier. And I’ve got the proof right here in the simple youtube video. Very few of us experience anywhere near this level of ecstacy by working 80 hours a week or getting the 60″ TV instead of the 48″ TV.
I’m not suggesting we all go out, steal a big tire and (probably illegally) roll it into the lake. It’s symbolic. It’s symbolic of how not having all kinds of fancy shiny stuff to fill every second of our time is the prescription for a calmer, less stressful existence.
It’s so hard to fight through the clutter of our consumeristic, always-on world where we’re subjected to marketing and advertising thousands of times a day, even if we work hard at avoiding it. It’s everywhere. We’re told almost constantly, consciously and subconsciously, that we won’t truly be the people we desire to be until we’ve bought the latest gadget or gizmo. Of course we’re being convinced of this by the companies that make and sell all the latest gadgets and gizmos, but we fall prey far too easily. They’ve figured out the human psyche a long time ago; they know what to say to convince us that only by buying more will be find true happiness.
I’m trying like crazy to fight it. It’s not easy, but sometimes all I’ve got to do is fire up this video and it straightens my head out. It’s a huge tire bouncing downhill into a lake. That’s it. But that’s all it needs to be.
So, my advice: Don’t watch so much TV. Turn off your phone once in awhile. Go for a walk. Ride your bike. Plant a garden. Play with your kids. Talk to your kids (if your kids are teenagers, then at least try to talk to them.) Sing. Play an instrument. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds drift by or gaze up at the stars. Fly a kite. Smell the roses. Roll a huge tire downhill into a lake. Live.
Or is it just me? Maybe I’m just making way too much out of a random stupid online video. I don’t know…