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The F**k it Philosophy

John Parkin talks to Laura Hughes about work, life, love, loss and saying "fuck it" to all of them

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To 'fuck it' is to let go and give into the flow of life - to stop worrying and reject what is causing you pain. The word 'Fuck' is truly beautiful because it is slang for having sex. 'Fuck off' is really 'Go and have sex,' which is not really an insult but a good suggestion. To say "fuck It" feels good. To follow your impulses, ignore what everyone is telling you and just go your own way.

John C. Parkin is the UK's bestselling 'wisdom' teacher. His F**k It books have an anarchist heart and are available in 22 languages across the globe. As well as running 'F**k It Retreats' with his wife Gaia from Italy, he wanders the world using his inspiring 'F**k It' words and his powerful 'F**k It' Music to help people let go.

John's philosophy offers a spiritual means of finding peace, but without chanting, meditating, wearing sandals or eating pulses. In John's novel, he equates saying 'fuck it' with a spiritual act. I wondered though why this was, as the phrase 'to fuck someone over' surely has negative connotations? "In eastern traditions, letting go, giving up on attachments and going with the flow are spiritual acts. Saying 'fuck it' does the same thing. When we let go and relax, we fall back into a more meditative and 'spiritual' state. Other expressions using 'fuck' can have negative connotations, of course. Saying 'fuck it' has mainly positive connotations and effects for people."

Why does fuck still have this power to shock and intimidate? "It's astonishing that this very old word still has such power. It seems that overuse, even in the media, has not overly dented its power to shock. Why? Well, there's a particular harshness to the word itself: the sound created is harsh and aggressive in itself. And I suspect that we need certain words in our language to be able to use that we know will shock others if we use them, so we're hanging onto this one for dear life. After all, there's only really one other word to rival the f word, and that's the c word, and though it's twice as shocking, it's not half as flexible." The words 'fuck it' packs an impressive punch, and the phrase taps into the philosophy of pure anarchy.

"The C word's twice as shocking, but not half as flexible."

Could it be argued that saying "fuck it", is sometimes the easy way out of a situation? We can't just fuck our degrees, decide not to pay the rent and ditch a hysterical friend? "I certainly hope that saying fuck it is (usually) an easy way out of a difficult situation. That would be great. The question is whether the consequences of that choice create more difficulty or not. Saying "fuck it" is powerful, but it's not consequence-free. If doing a degree is a living nightmare, and you'd much prefer to be out working, but the only reason you're sticking it out is because your parents want you to, then it's worth considering what to do. If paying the rent is dropping you further into debt, or forcing you to do a job you despise, then maybe it's worth looking at other accommodation options. And if a hysterical friend is driving you hysterical, what can you do that will relieve you but not make the situation worse? The truth is, we always have a choice. If we know that, and we're conscious (i.e. we look at the whole situation, including the consequences of what we do), then saying 'fuck it' can help us on our way, and make things easier (and there's rarely harm in making things easier, for ourselves, or others)."

How did John get into this stream of thought and how has it changed his life? "I studied and practiced various systems of philosophical and spiritual discipline for years. 10 years ago, I realized that our profanity 'fuck it' is a beautiful shortcut for many of the techniques and ideas used in those disciplines. It's changed my life in many ways: I let go more easily, I relax more quickly, I am generally more relaxed, I trust things will work out more, I have more courage and go for things more readily. I do follow my 'flow', slowing down when I feel like it, but also speeding up and really applying myself when I feel like it too. I'm happier, healthier, wealthier and hopefully wiser too!"

In John's book, he explores the antagonistic concepts of fear and love. Concluding the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. "If you have a high libido you have an openness and lust for life. In fear we retreat and block ourselves off from certain experiences we think might cause us pain." He spoke about the agony of young love (no, really). I humoured him and asked what words John would as encouragement to a suffering student? "Our hearts mend. The world hasn't ended yet, even though it sometimes feels it's about to. Everyone looks back and aches to be young again, even if our hearts ached when we were young. Saying 'fuck it' is also about embracing life, AS IT IS, even when it feels painful. We embrace it, and one day it will be time to let go and move on." Saying "fuck it" to pain is to say "fuck it" to fear.

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John says it's safe to feel pain, to play the game of affirmations and tell yourself, 'I am safe no matter what I am feeling.' The process of cracking fear has a real momentum; when you respond to pain you are only acting out a conditioned response. And all conditioned responses are reversible. When you encounter any pain, counter your immediate response by just saying "fuck it". We spend so much of our lives wrapped up and held back by the fear of how others perceive us. If John could give a student a line of life advice what would it be? "Students, pensioners, mid-life-crisis-ridden men and women, and everyone else on this beautiful planet would all benefit from saying this, like a mantra: 'Fuck it to what others think of me'. We must follow our hearts (with the help of our heads), and take the best of what others might say, but say 'fuck it' when it's holding us back from our gilded paths through life."

What was John's attitude towards dieting and self-discipline, because it could be argued these are necessary for a 'healthy' lifestyle? "My attitude, as you'd expect, is to say 'fuck it' and do what you fancy. We all know the consequences of leading a terrible lifestyle over the long-term (and the short-term actually). We all know too what it takes to 'force' yourself to eat well and exercise at the gym. When you take away that sense of obligation from someone, and invite them to do what they fancy, then you get an unexpected response (over the long-term): people (including myself) often end up leading a healthier life than they were living when they felt obliged to do so."

I wanted to know what advice John would offer to someone who hated their career, and is a student on the fringe of the real world. If we all said "fuck it" and did what we wanted, surely industries would collapse and the world would come to a standstill? "We should all try to do what we love in life. Otherwise what's it all for? A graduate in our current society (current recession excepted) is in a privileged position: not just to step into the best career and attract the highest salary, but to spend their lives doing something (and usually many things) they love. Please, find ways to DO WHAT YOU LOVE. As for industries, and their possible collapse: 1. Who cares? (they don't care for you), 2. There are many people who actually love their job in 'industry', in every area of industry, no matter how barmy that seems, 3. There are enough suckers out there who'll waste the rest of their precious lives doing stuff they hate to let you off the hook, if you're worried about that."

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John talks in his novel F**k it, about the ability of the mind to elicit a spontaneous sense of freedom. Why would John encourage someone to come to one of his retreats? "Everyone that comes to one of our F**k It Retreats in Italy knows that it's the right thing to do. They usually have very little choice in the matter: they just feel a pull, so they come. Then they leave more relaxed, having made lots of great new friends, and with a new sense of how to approach life, from the perspective of freedom, f**k it freedom."

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