- Who The Hell Is This Guy?
"Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional." -Chili Davis
Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,
This is the third and final letter to Anomy.
The subject of last week's missive was mostly about the fact that you're sensitive and intelligent enough to have figured out that life requires tolerating no shortage of bullshit. I pointed out that you've figured out that grups have feet of clay and that the wildly imperfect world we live in reflects it.
Your reaction -- a not uncommon and understandable one, particularly nowadays -- was/is to embrace nihilism and cynicism. Let's party! I didn't point out that this path is a dead end, that even partying all the time eventually gets boring, just like doing anything all the time eventually gets boring.
The problem with revealing that bit of wisdom to a young person is of limited utility. You're going to have to live a bit longer to realize just how true it is.
It gets worse.
I hope you're an exception but for most people -- even me, and I've had a life that's a bit more interesting than average -- life is (mostly) one damn thing after another and is what happens to you while you're making other plans.
[FYI, the two "life is" quotes above are attributed to lots of people, I threw in the "mostly" because life is occasionally awesome, usually when you're least expecting it. The one damn thing version is often attributed to Winston Churchill, I suspect because it sounds like something he'd say.
But since "Winnie" is famous for playing a key part in saving the planet during the last worldwide war there's a lesson there methinks.]
"Fugihden, life sucks and then you die so..."
If life sucks and then you die the question is what sort of life should you live and your answer seems to be, PAR-TAY! As I pointed out above, this only works temporarily (trust me on this), so the next question is, how should you pass your time while waiting to take a dirt nap?
And by the way, I don't mean to embarrass you but people who've figured out that PAR-TAY! is not the answer understand that PAR-TAY! is often just an excuse for doing nothing. It's the easy way out for people suffering from Peter Pan syndrome. Or worse yet, addiction.
Passing the Time
I've written about what follows before, and I have to acknowledge the fact that Jordan Peterson explains it better than I can, but here's the Reader's Digest version.
For myriad biological, psychological, philosophical, etceteralogical reasons H. sapiens need to spend their lives in the pursuit of goals and ideals and once a given goal/ideal is reached, or discarded, a new goal/ideal must replace it in order to feel... right. To feel like you're functioning as designed. To experience meaning and purpose.
It's really that simple, and that hard.
Hard, because anyone can say my goal is _______ and I'm going to start seriously pursuing it... next week, or next month, or next year, or as soon as the bottle or the bag is empty, or after I move out of here, or after I find a job/a better job, or _______. And then pull the covers up and go back to sleep.
Hard, because every time you reach or discard a goal/ideal you're not suddenly going be happy once and for all. You can't actually pursue happiness any more than you can force yourself to go to sleep, or to love (or even like) someone. Or to be loved (or even liked) by someone.
All that you can do is all that you can do.
To occasionally experience happiness be worthy of happiness. To be loved (or even liked) be worthy of it. To sleep well, work hard at something worth working hard for, which often means working hard at something you hate so you have the opportunity to work hard doing something you love.
Work hard at something you hate, or are indifferent to, so you can pay your own way, or pay the way of your loved ones and deep, restful sleep will follow.
Hard, because you have to choose to be a grup, you have to choose not to see yourself as a victim. We're all victims of something, so what? What are you doing about it? A grup understands everything we want, that makes us "happy" is an opposite of something and that the nature of reality is that it's made of opposites. Happy/sad, up/down, yin/yang. Deal with it.
Hard, because if you want to become a wise, contented, well-respected soul the only path available is to consciously decide to be the best person you can be on every level and get off your ass and do it.
No matter how rough things get at any given moment there are literally millions of other H. sapiens, at that exact same moment, with problems that make yours seem like a walk in the park on a beautiful day.
What will be your legacy? Choose one. He always tried to make things a little better for himself and everyone he could. He spent his life covering his ass and enduring the day. He was an asshole and we're glad he's gone. Poppa loves you.
Have an OK day.
P.S. Speaking of Jordan Peterson...
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