I’ve been silent for a while. Funny how certain things make you feel like you should silence yourself – estrangement from family; being employed (seriously, if you’re on the Internet and employed, you should probably not post anything remotely personal); being “busy.” Are any of us truly busy? Or are we just killing time out of fear of being with ourselves? Or fear of being bored? Or insignificant.
What if being insignificant is the point, though?
I’ve gotten really into the “Great Courses” audio books on Audible. If you’re not familiar with these, they’re basically college-level courses on a variety of topics. Anytime you get in the car in Atlanta, you’re in it for at least 20-60 minutes, so I have found this to be a fruitful way to pass the time. Right now, I’m listening to a philosophy course about the meaning of life.
I avoided philosophy courses in college because, frankly, I thought it was stupid to sit around listening to theories espoused by dead people who lived hundreds, if not, thousands, of years ago. But as I listen to this course, I find myself struck by how I have pieced together bits of stoicism, bits of Aristotle, bits of Job – really a disappointing and realist POV if you think about it – and have been trying to incorporate the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita for about two years, all without technically knowing about any of it. So am I really that deep a thinker, or did these things so permeate our culture as to become a part of us, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not?
Dude, when I was a teenager, I was deep. Now I’m just human.
Everything covered in the course so far seems to, in the end, agree on the same thing: relationships are the only things that ultimately matter; don’t let your actions be guided by emotions; and life isn’t fair so don’t bother whining about it. Accept your life as is and you’ll be happier.
But you know what? Shit’s hard. You have pantry moths, you have cancer, you get laid off from your job, your kid gets an F in chemistry, your haircut sucks, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, everyone is a terrible driver but you. It’s hard to think about the bigger picture when on a daily basis you’re quite concerned about the increasing cost of gas and whether or not Alexa is a helpful tool or a harbinger of death. (I vote the latter. I’ve always wanted robots in my life, but not ones geared towards getting me to buy detergent or music.)
Honestly, most of the time what takes up a lot of my headspace is anxiety. There’s often no rational reason for it. Sure, my life has annoyances – like everyone’s – but on a scale of 1-10, particularly if I’m comparing it to those far less fortunate than myself, I’d probably have to give my life a 10. I have a comfortable roof over my head, I have loved ones nearby, food is never a problem, I’m not dead yet, and I live in a country where I can, contrary to what petty tyrants believe, pretty much say whatever I want. Rarely in human history have such a large group of people been so secure in their basic needs and so free, so educated, and so entitled to be loud, silly, and opinionated without consequence. Plus you know, there’s the Internet. I can blog and look at videos of cockatoos rocking out to Elvis. So is this all there is? MAYBE. Go hug someone.