07 June 2013

Life's Many Contradictions


Spoiler Alert!  About halfway through the following blogpost, the main character, whom you will have come to love for his unshakable if unorthodox sense of honor, is brutally maimed slash(ed) disfigured at the hands of some bad actors and left to bleed out in agony.  Kind of a drag I know, but the director is attempting to make a serious point about the nature of existence, he's a pretentious ass but forgive him, he means well.  If this sort of thing bothers you, please read no further.  It is not our wish to make anyone uncomfortable.  If on the other hand you get off on that stuff, you might wanna go pop some popcorn, it's about to get quite wonderful.

Human life teems with unfathomable contradictions. 

It is undeniably meaningless, a huge pathetic waste of everyone's time.  And yet there are so many wonderful people doing so many amazing things, life really must be some kind of miracle.  Except it's not, it's an endless, pitiless swamp of misery, tripping from discomfort to embarrassment to pain and soon enough to boredom.  But think of the exquisite pleasures it offers: swimming in the warm ocean when the sun is low, a morning of languid (or if you prefer, frenetic, summary, etc.) lovemaking, intellectual surprises from one's maturing offspring, the roasting of comestibles over an open fire, the satisfaction of a tough and necessary job well done, ice cream with a brownie in there, Earth, Sly, Aretha Franklin, skiing, James Brown, so much more.  Yet such pleasures are elusive, fleeting moments of bliss punctuating the general agony, the plodding along doing what someone else demands of you, or conspiring to amass wealth or defend what you've piled up so far from the clutchy arms of everyone else. Even if you had that infinite money you could use it to live on the beach and swim in the warm ocean daily and then guess what, it gets progressively less interesting the more you do it, take pleasure in anything often enough and it starts to get old, the intensity of the enjoyment is in inverse proportion to the frequency.  

Life is indescribably beautiful; at the same time, it sucks donkey dick. 

People are essentially good, except there are so many terribly beastly ones too.  They will go to almost any lengths to help a fellow human in need, yet most need little encouragement to inflict horrible suffering on the innocent if the incentives are (im)properly aligned.  We possess a powerful gut sense of right and wrong, alongside an apparently bottomless capacity for rationalization / justification that can override our innate ethics when self-interest rears its ugly mug.  My goodness the horrible things humans do to other humans around the world on a daily, hourly basis, bayoneting babies and the like.  But did you see the latest Boney McJoyless flick, man that was some powerful stuff, think of the genius and resources that were channeled to producing such a refined work of art, and ask yourself: How could the universe mean nothing?

Life is too short, over in a blink before you know it.  It's also intolerably long, I mean there's basically food, rest, activity, companionship, responsibility, pleasure, and knowledge of the self, you can figure most of it out before you're thirty-two: then you only have fifty or sixty years left to kill – if you're lucky – while your body disintegrates and the ratio of responsibility to pleasure tilts increasingly the wrong way.  Too busy and you're stressed, not busy enough and you're vaguely dissatisfied.  And there's more, so much more you should be doing, like taking a few seconds (but not too many) to relax and enjoy life once in a while.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't, either way you're dead in the end.

"God"?  Don't get me started.

Helping other people?  That's a pretty good one, possibly the only answer worth discussing.  But what is ultimately the point of helping other entities who are just as pointless as you?  I know, I know: might as well.

In the long (enough) view, nothing that any of us can do can possibly mean anything.  Yet we are alive now and the actions we take have deep and lasting impact on our fellow survivors.  There is no meaning to our lives except the meaning we ourselves supply; yet our lives mean everything to us, in the end we have nothing else to cling to.

Such contradictions are an inextricable part of what it means to be human.  That is a fine-sounding sentence and may even be true.  What do I know?  Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about?  Because I do, and I don't.


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