Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Life is a cruel joke

Sometimes I feel as if life were a punishment... As if it were out to prove us wrong and teach us humility over and over again. You swear we will never do something only to find yourself doing it. You judge others only to become like them. You fall in love only to fall out of love. You wish for peace but are confronted with war. Life gives you beauty, then takes it away. Life gives you a dream, and replaces it with reality!...

It all starts when we are babies. First we are one with our mother and never feel hungry or cold. Then we are born. That is where the shit (both figuratively and literally) starts. All of a sudden we feel hungry, cold and wet. We are unhappy and we cry to get our mothers attention. And then (when she finally arrives) she doesn't always seem to understand what we need!... :( Darn!... Things used to be so perfect back in her womb! Why this?

So there goes lesson number one in life: learn to cope with your frustrations cause life is not always going to give you what you want! Unfortunately we are not done yet. No, you are going to have this same lesson taught to you over and over again little fellow! Wohoo!

Let's continue shall we? You are a kid: you still believe in fairy tales and the sky is the limit. You are going to change the world and be the next superstar, Einstein, Bill Gates, Ronaldinho!!! Years later you have not become Einstein neither Ronaldinho. And you realise that you never will (lucky are those who die young). So, you try to scale down your dreams: Ok, I guess I can also be happy with a nice job and a loving partner. You think that is a modest wish? Behold, for in fact these are as unattainable as becoming Einstein was in the first place!..

Let's assume that you do get your dream-job and you do get your dream-partner. Now, remember, life has a lesson to teach you, so sooner or later you will get disillusioned with your dream-job and/or fall in love with someone else!.. Ouch... So what is one to do then? Seems like there are two solutions: either you stick with what you got or you leap into the unknown.
  • Option number one: Stick with what you got and you will most probably be left with feelings of discomfort, frustration and “what if” thoughts for the rest of your life (sure, you can always sweep them under the rug, but truth be told, they are observing you from their dark hidding place).
  • Option number two: You take the leap only to find yourself in the exact same situation a few years down the line with absolute happiness still not attained! Again you have to choose whether you flee or stay.
So either way, you are never perfectly happy! The worse part is that somehow life has given us the illusion of absolute happiness. What it fails to give us however, is a “perfect reality” to match this. We are thus stuck in a complicated and imperfect world with our idealistic notions of happiness. How incredibly cruel!..
Once again life is laughing at you: still haven't learned your lesson?

So what do wise men (and women) say to this? Well, I don't know enough to give a representative account (:p), but one thing that does come to mind are those saying about how one should “free themselves from desires” in order to attain happiness. Seems logical given the impossibility of finding the perfection we desire... I can totally see how this works for material things. Sure, you'd be much better off not desiring that new, huge and unaffordable flat TV screen! But if you truly have no desires at all, you in fact do not even have the desire to live anymore..! You don't have the desire to wake up in the morning, to meet others, to eat a nice meal, to help a fellow human being. In short: you just wait for death to come!... Hmmm... That cannot be the solution then can it?... Life's cruelty thus goes on and on....

Strange enough though life seems to have an other, more cooperative side as well. You ask questions and somehow the answers come to you. Circumstances change to fulfill your deepest desires. Opportunities present themselves. You find hope where there was none. You find love and understanding where you least expected them. Ephemeral but beautiful. As if there was a bigger plan or a loving hand guiding your way.

So, what is one to conclude? I really don't understand this anymore! What is this insane mix of punishment and help??? Of giving and taking? What is life trying to teach us at all?
Perhaps this is just the same good old lesson over again. Perhaps it is life's way of saying:
“Suck it up Philo, you will never understand what life is about!”.


Le Chat Noir said...

I think life is strange that way. I am reminded of the quote: "Life is a musical thing and we ought to sing and dance while the music is being played."

Happiness to me has a lot to do with slowing down. Desiring the impossible makes you unhappy. I agree, and I experienced that myself for a long time. Though these desires are necessary to progress. My solution to that, clarify those goals and work towards them, but not get our happiness out of them. Happiness has a lot to do with me in appreciating what is there. I try to take as little as possible for granted, not my friends, not my education, not my happiness, but since it is here now; I am grateful and love it.

The music playing now in my life is a beautiful tune and I am intent to hear it, not knowing whether the tune in future will be like this one.

This kind of living and loving is a day to day one. Sometimes my lack of a future image (especially around people, I find it hard even to make appointments half a year away) creates a bit of an empty feeling, but therein comes clear the clarifications of my own goals, "what can I do, to influence my future, regardless off what life throws at me?"

Philo said...

I like what you are saying and I recognise the feeling. Seems like it is a question of finding the right balance between accepting what you have and what comes your way versus taking action and investing oneself. I don't find it easy to strike that balance. Plus, you can keep on questioning your choices over and over again.
But, as you say, I guess the trick then is not to question, but to accept and appreciate what you got. :)

Seth said...

Do you know Romain Gary's "La promesse de l'aube"?

"Avec l'amour maternel, la vie vous fait à l'aube une promesse qu'elle ne tient jamais. On est obligé ensuite de manger froid jusqu'à la fin de ses jours.
(...) Vous êtes passé à la source très tôt et vous avez tout bu. Lorsque la soif vous reprend, vous avez beau vous jeter de tous côtés, il n'y a plus de puits, il n'y a que des mirages."

Philo said...

No I don't. Having received too much "love" as the source of this kind of problem is an interesting concept though. That gives something to think about.
PS: I just read about the book you mentioned on wikipedia. Sounds like an extreme (almost pathological) case of maternal love. If you are interested in this subject you should watch this TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html