Gus Van Sant, American screenwriter and director, created a short comedic film titled the Discipline of D.E. in 1982. The video explores the art of “do easy” living, which illustrates highly efficient means of completing daily and otherwise mundane tasks. This 16 mm film, while directed by Van Sant, is based on a story in William S. Burrough’s Exterminator! (1973). Both the film and the story resonate a very entertaining and informative take on the proper manner in which to complete simple tasks. According to the works, it is a lifestyle choice. A willingness to accept that there is a right way to do everything. A willingness to admit the error of normal ways. A willingness to relearn basic functions and master the simple things. A student of D.E. (do easy living) must learn–at the highest possible efficiency–to clear a plate. To shave. To brush their teeth. To walk. To do laundry. To iron a shirt. To sleep. To eat. To breathe. To
Muscle memory is a powerfully beautiful thing. In order to master D.E., a student must devote their life to the discipline of repetition in order to build that kinetic memory. When moving through a space, for instance, one must be wary of the objects sharing that space and be willing to move through the same space multiple times if they fumble in a movement. If bumping a chair, one must start from the beginning of the room and walk deliberately around the chair to redo that movement and undo the inaccuracies to right the wrongs. While this may seem ridiculously silly, especially as the film was made with the intentions of comedy, the concept of this lifestyle should still be considered somewhat seriously. D.E. mimics a Buddhist mantra, an undertaking of a very gradual and precise lifestyle, where firm but gentle touches are central. This way of life focuses on leading clear and directed lives with careful and meaningful actions. It is a life devoted to mastering the little things.
In today’s fast-paced world, people often overlook the more humble components of life and do not take ample time to care for the parts that make daily life worth living. Always in a hurry to finish daily chores, but filled with ample time to spend on mindless activity–such as browsing news on social media–people can often forget how meaningful life can be. The act of living, and living efficiently, is a gift that all people should embrace. The crazy wisdom of Discipline of D.E. embodies the balanced ebullient and demanding spirit of Zen. Once mastered, do easy living can provide one with even more time to do the things they enjoy.
Please, sacrifice nine minutes of your time for a lifetime of time saving. View the film.