You are alive. Your heart is beating. Electric impulses are shooting across the neurons in your brain. You are now aware of the fact that you are breathing, swallowing, and blinking.
The physics major in me likes to look at life from a science-y perspective. We are clusters of particles that configure into amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids that are further clustered into tissue, bones, and fluid. The only reason you’re here, at this very moment, reading this essay, is because generations upon generations of first unicellular and later multi-cellular organisms have mutated and evolved into what we at present acknowledge as the natural world. The smallest difference in the construction of this delicate balance of material, and the world as we know it would be completely different. Trees would be purple, and who says there would even be trees? For example, many astrobiologists debate that life on other planets could be supported by silicon as opposed to our current carbon.
Many will probably disagree with my cut-and-dry view of the origin of life, but to each his own. Another thing that 100% of the world will disagree with me about is what to do with the life we’re given. We exist, we can think, walk, and talk, now what? No two people on earth have the same response to this question.
In his earlier essay, “The Meaning of Life”, Grant suggested that in life we seek “metaphysical and spiritual joy”, a premise that I personally agree with and will use as the base assumption of this essay.
We all experience joy in different ways, and we tend to cluster and connect with those who do so similarly to ourselves. But the beauty of it is that on one’s view can be valued higher than anyone else’s. We can claim to have accomplished more in comparison to others, but the value of these accomplishments in itself is based solely on personal opinion.
The simple fact that there is no singular, concrete answer is the cause of so many losing hope in life as they drown in doubt. I’ve found that those who manage to keep afloat have either depended on religion for an answer or have made up their own.
When contemplating existence and what we should do with our short time on earth, we often hear the phrase, “Find something you love and stick to it.” However, it’s easy to see how this phrase could get distorted into, “But I love getting high, playing Halo 4, and jerking off. Sometimes all at the same time.” You just either nodded and smiled or cringed in disgust. But for those of you who did just gag, I must ask this: why is what I said so wrong? Why, if being a couch potato is what brings a person the greatest joy, is it so frowned upon? In QBA’s first published essay, “On Aiming Low”, Jason made several great arguments for laziness. He brought up the principle that if we are already satisfied with our lives, we should not waste our time putting in more work.
In many ways, I agree with his assertions, antithetical to his own beliefs as they may be. But I’d like to explore the topic more and investigate the reasons why many people do, in fact, choose to put in any additional effort into their lives.
We are taught to have a bad association with idling and laziness. Hell, it’s even in the 10 commandments. I believe that the main reason we are constantly being pushed to perform past our own level of satisfaction is because society thrives on it. Sleepless nights and overworked bodies are the backbone of progress. If everyone decided to scoot away from their desks, put down their power tools, and pop open a beer because they were satisfied with their current situation, the world as we now know it would crumble to pieces. We are always being pushed to want something more. A new car, a new bag, a promotion; anything to get us up at 8am in prospects of our next paycheck.
Another point is guilt. Many ex-couch potatoes eventually get a job and clean up because they see that their poor existence is straining their family’s well-being and that they are hurting them by doing nothing with their lives. So many people set their goals on the basis of “making someone proud”, or “doing it for someone”. But what if you really don’t care about anyone else other than yourself? What if you are perfectly comfortable with burdening your relatives and friends. Then you don’t have a reason to get up off the couch and you won’t feel guilt for not doing so. The only reason this type of motivation works is because we are brought up with and conditioned to respond to it.
Everyone at one point or another is concerned with the what they should do with the rest of their lives, but when it comes to that point, in all honesty, DO WHAT YOU WANT. I agree with Jason on the premise that life is too short to spend it grade grubbing and making people happy. But if both of those fit the agenda for something you are passionate about and have focused your interests on, by all means, toil away.
And now, dear reader, I must leave you with the rather uncomfortable question to consider of: “How are you planning to find happiness in life?”