When we’re young, we have so many grand hopes and dreams. No matter how miserable our life may be, we can imagine a better time where things could be perfect. Then as we grow older, one by one, these dreams fall to the wayside; our hopes narrow, as the pressures of life force us through the constricting funnel of life.
One day we wake up from our life, realizing, all the hopes and dreams we clung onto so tightly were akin to fantasy. Even if we have achieved a great many of our dreams and aspirations, the outcome never tasted as sweet as what we imagined.
This is our life expectations gap. Life never fully measures up to our expectations. How can any reality measure up to imagination, fantasy, utopia?
A few times in our lives, we reach a life intersection in our journey – should we go straight ahead, make a sharp turn left or right, or backtrack? In these moments we must reflect and think objectively.
If we woke up one day and realized, even though we had achieved nearly every single one of our goals and dreams, and yet, still could not be content, unable to even envision new dreams or aspirations that could fuel us further, what should we do? If further still, a sharp life experience painfully reminded us of our mortality, frailty, what should we do?
The One Thing Worse Than Death
There is only thing worse than death or dying – living in a perpetual state of discontent; or worse still, finding brief moments of happiness, only to assuredly lose it every single time. Having happiness and contentment, but only for short periods is far worse than having none at all. It reminds us what we lost, constantly.
If we find ourselves victims of such circumstance, rest assured, the problem lays within us, not outside of us. The world may be corrupt, diseased, dark and ugly, selfish, and filled with lies and traps; but we can still find content and happiness within it still. If we cannot, we must turn inward.
I’ve reached my crossroads a couple times in my life now. The first was in my early thirties. I made an existential journey to discover the world more and peer inward as well. I made some life changes, alterations that I thought would make me more content, less restless in this life. And for a while, it worked.
Going through my divorce, the experience shattered every concept I had about life and myself. This trauma over my divorce has less to do with losing my ex-wife, specifically, or a failed marriage, and everything to do with myself, generally. It is a failure of who I am, hoped to be, thought I had become. It is a nuclear annihilation of my perception of my little world and of who I am.
Unhappy In Paradise
Imagine, if you will, dying and waking up in heaven. It turns out to be amazing, better than you had imagined or hoped. Literally perfect. You couldn’t possibly be happier. You realize what life was all about finally.
Then imagine, after a handful of years, the luster wears off, and you begin to see heaven less of what you once thought, and more like hell, a prison, despite the fact she was never controlling or confining. You become restless, discontent again. Except now there is no “other” heaven that you can dream or hope for that could possibly make you feel that way again. You realize that the problem isn’t that heaven wasn’t as perfect as you first experienced; it’s that you became dissatisfied with it. Discontent again.
So you begin to reflect in earnest, and you discover that this trend has been everywhere throughout your entire life, at each milestone you achieved, every accomplishment, every experience, every love. You realize that no matter how perfect anything was, it never could captivate you long enough. And this was true of everything in your life.
What do you do? Which direction do you go at your crossroads?
The most foolish thing would be to plow ahead, in the same direction you had always headed. Turning left or right seems a bit arbitrary and desperate. Going backwards seems like retreating in war, something losers do.
So I decided to burn the entire road. Forge a completely new path in the fresh field. I plunged forward, making new discoveries and experiences. It was exhilarating for a moment too. But just as the previous path, discontent and restlessness came back. Nothing was possibly enough. Literally nothing.
So then I decided my eyes and ears and taste and smell and touch were the problem. How I engaged the world, through my tunnel vision, our senses. Gourmet stopped tasting or smelling or looking like gourmet. So I needed to train myself to enjoy the simple, the bland; to stop expecting or being desirous of gourmet.
So here I am, experiment in force. Down to bare bones in life, ex-luxuries of any kind. Seeking understanding, truth, the actual reality we live in.
Is it working? Not really. But in some ways, yes. But, I’m convinced any changes would be temporary too. So it appears I’ve suffered and wasted my time for nothing, except for exercising my own penitence for my sins – the pain inflicted onto the loves of of my life. I think I’ve cleansed my conscience if that were the only goal.
So now what? I have no fucking idea. I promised myself I wouldn’t quit and endure this until end of the year, but I’ve begun to wonder – what’s the point? Why am I freezing my ass and toes off – literally – if there is nothing further to be gained? And likewise, how can I go back to a life of constant discontent?
It shocks me that most people are content with merely the struggle of life, viewing happiness as a luxury that few are lucky enough to enjoy on a long term basis. Most people confuse distraction and bussyness as being content. For most, happiness is somehow correlated with popularity. For those who overuse or overly rely on alcohol, drugs, sex, popularity, or one addition or another, to be happy (for a moment), it’s obvious you’re truly miserable. I can’t understand any of this. But obviously I don’t have my own answers either.
I was looking through my photos on my phone this week. It brought smiles and laughs. It’s been a pretty fantastic life from that point of view. But every single one of those amazing experiences always felt so empty afterwards. It could never be enough. Perhaps I expect too much.
It’s true that the only thing that remotely made me content and happy was genuine love. I couldn’t love someone more than I loved my ex. There is no human being on this planet that I would have chosen over her, Irena, at the time. Even if I could combine the most ideal woman – combine the most gorgeous girl with a flawless body, the most interesting and exciting personality that everyone loved, with the perfect character that I could put my life into her hands – even if this perfect woman existed, I would’ve chosen my Irena instead. She was perfect for me. We never fought. Our lovelife was great. Our life was great. We just clicked and fit together seamlessly. But even this wasn’t enough for me.
Having this knowledge is an impossible thing to get over. Knowing I am permanently, irreparably damaged, broken, flawed, is crippling. Knowing further that even the most radical of attempts to cure this severe character flaw failed or is failing…there is nothing else that I can do. No fix. Nothing can change the outcome. I am unchangeable.
Maybe some of us were never meant to – allowed to – be happy in this life.
Maybe persistent happiness isn’t something for this life; maybe only in the afterlife.
Maybe we should stop being such pussies and crying about how unhappy we are in life, how nothing is ever enough, and be happy with the little we have. Oh yeah…I tried this already too.