42 Is Not The Meaning Of Life – Sorry Lewis Carroll
The funny thing about insomnia, ok well it’s not really ha ha funny, more scratch your head in a what the living fuck kind of way funny, is that it’s during this time when the world is quiet and peaceful you realise that life isn’t quiet and peaceful at all. The actual silence and stillness is so very foreign. Actually life for most of us life is a total clusterfuck of dragging ourselves through one day, just to get to the next.
We live in a fast paced, cutting edge, go out and get em’ type world. We have so many opportunities, so many things we CAN achieve and so much we can do. This mantra is drilled into us from an early age, it’s what we tell our kids to inspire them (not all bad), we tell them they can have it all (I guess they can, or can they?) and the can be everything they want. The irony of it all is we forget to tell them is to LIVE! We take moments for granted, we miss the finer details and we as sure as shit don’t stop to smell the roses. Cause ain’t nobody got time for that!
That’s not the biggest irony though (if you can call that irony in the strictest sense of the word and since this is my blog and I can write whatever the fuck I like I’m calling it irony) is that whilst we live longer than ever before we also live harder. Not in the good way either, like the young persons creed of “party hard or go home” type hard, they at least are living in the moment, whether responsibly or not. Life is just damn hard and we have made it that way or at least contributed to a society that makes it that way.
We live in a constant pressure cooker, pushing ourselves to our limits, beyond our limits and while we have quantity of life thanks to better healthcare and medical innovation, the quality of life has gone down the drain for the most part. So we live far longer, but we also live far more complicated. Complicated is NEVER a good word. You know when you see someone FB status as “It’s Complicated” you just don’t want to know cause its going to be a total mind bend.
I’m not sure if I’ve posted about this before or just started a post about this before but at any given point in time 1:2 (50%) of the population is diagnostically clinically depressed. Then add into that 1:3 (33%) are clinically diagnosable with an anxiety related condition. They come in various shapes and forms, from generalized, to specific, to OCD, to control based and the list goes on and on. Granted some anxiety and depression are comorbid conditions a lot of the time (as in exist in parallel within a person at the same time) but we also have increasing rates of bipolar disorders, mood disorders (more general than just anxiety and depression) and even personality disorders. Yes we are better at detecting these things now, we are quick to label anything that’s not “normal” but the actual diagnostic rates do not reflect these shifts accurately, the rates are much higher than the diagnostic criterion would allow for. (Assuming that diagnostic rates are correct but you don’t want to hear me tear to shreds the current diagnostic measures, we shall save that for the PhD)
The way we live is making our brains ill. Also our bodies, but that’s not what I’m jabbering on about today. But unlike a physical ailment it’s seldom discussed and seldom fixed, well other than by throwing pills at it. We all know my great love (sarcasm) for the pill popping society we live in, hell I even joke about it, wash away the day with a coupe of Xanax. It gets a chuckle and people can relate BUT you know what it really isn’t funny and it’s fucked up that everyone can relate. What we do is just keep moving, one foot in front of another, then another and another…. The “day to day grind” You see my point. Never is the core issue addressed. Unfortunately the core issue is the way we live.
When do we take a step back, just for one damn second and ask ourselves what the fuck are we hoping to achieve here? You’re getting picture of 10 year plans, of what you want to achieve, what you want to own, how you want to live and what you want to have. All external, nothing internal right or at least mostly but the external is driving the internal? Or then the common misconception that a good external makes for a good internal. Buzz, wrong! Dead wrong.
Yes obviously we all need to earn to live, to eat, have a home, educate and clothe our children but there is also a huge element of materialism that comes into play. Look you can call me a hypocrite all you like, I love designer handbags, clothes and all things shiny and pretty. I like new technology and having nice things. I’m just as guilty as the next person, maybe more so and I’m willing to out my hand up and admit it. I like nice things. These things cost money, but today I realised (I’m a bit slow at times) they also cost far more than that, they cost us time, effort, energy, moments and even relationships with other people. Hidden costs that we don’t factor into their “price”. They suddenly don’t look so shiny and pretty anymore.
How often do you hear the phrase “time poor” in your daily life? How often do you use it? The thing is we really aren’t time poor at all, we aren’t poor at prioritizing time and time management. We CHOOSE to live lives that make it this way. We make what I believe on most levels, unconscious decision or are forced, to survive, to be part of the “rat race” and keep pushing to gain more and get greater and better. We are raised that way, it’s the culture we inhabit, it’s also the way we are raising our children.
The expectations on 6 year olds today academically are incredible compared to when I was 6. When I was 6 I was learning the alphabet and started to learn to read and write. I was also having a childhood that involved running around, climbing trees, throwing stones, chasing birds (soulless fuckers, wasn’t going to hurt them I promise), rolling down grass hills and doing a myriad of other things that you really don’t see kids doing today. Today children are expected to be mini adults, granted they are given some leeway but compared to when I was a child, not even in the same universe. I wasn’t asked to construct essays and read War and Peace for Christ’s sake. Ok maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but it sure feels like a good comparison. It’s all fine and good to want the best for our kids, for them to achieve in life but define the word “achieve” (you all thought financially first in some way didn’t you, educated, house, car and then married, children) and then question as to whether it’s coming at the price of the innocence childhood holds. Once that innocence is gone, it’s gone for good. So why are we stealing this from our children so they can be “successful” in the future?
Again define successful and take money out of the equation. Yes I know money is needed to live, blah blah blah, but let’s try to step past the wealth mentality because trust me when I say money can’t buy happiness. People joke it helps and yes being financially stable does help, but I mean heart singing, soul touching and joy radiating happiness here.
I’m sure the first thing ANY parent will tell you is what the want most in life for their child is to be happy and healthy. But sure as shit with the thoughts of happy comes success in material form in a large portion instantly rather than an intrinsic sense of happiness. Cause let’s face it living in poverty doesn’t equal happiness in OUR society. But then again how our society defines happiness is completely different, hence the term “first world problems”. Some of the fiscally poorest nations that have nothing but the essentials and their health are statistically the happiest in the world because they lead uncomplicated and simple lives. Some might say ignorance (as to what are missing) is bliss, I would just say that’s ignorant full stop.
But take a step back for a moment from that type of thinking and the achievement mentality. Ok maybe you might need to take half a dozen or so, just so you really have it out of focus. Stop, be still, be mindful of what’s going on AROUND you and what you are missing. The simple things, the tiniest beauties of life we tromp all over because we are going from point A to point B and while thinking about also getting to points C and D. Or better yet think back to being a child before we were burdened with more responsibility that we could ever have imagined or running our lives pace at warp speed. They say time goes faster when you get older, it sure does seem that way, but it’s really not getting faster, it’s us speeding up. Due to this we are paying the ultimate price, sure we are alive but we cease to live. Or at least in a for filling or meaningful way. This is what our kids see, this is what they model and this is how the reality of life is to them. Well I for one am bloody disgusted at that thought, it makes me feel physically ill.
Think back over the past week when your child has wanted to tell you something that in the grand scheme of things is innocuous, but to them it’s something worth sharing. We’ve half listened, made an appropriate noise but haven’t delved further into WHY they wanted to share this with us. Why it’s important to them and yes I know hearing about Pokemon a million times a day can make you wanna cut whomever created them, seriously. We don’t ask questions, why not? Because we are too “busy”. Or the time they made you sometime, a drawing, a painting or something equally kid like. We glance at it for s second and give them a teeny bit of acknowledgment, the “good job buddy”, and then continue with the task at hand. We don’t stop to study it, to take a really good hard look at what they’ve made, FOR us. Because we actually have “important” stuff we need to do…..Wait what’s more important than our child sharing something they have created with us and us actually being fully engaged? My mind can’t even cope with the overwhelming sense of grief of what I’ve missed out on in these moments. All because I was getting from point A to point B, thinking about points C and D and this “interruption” didn’t fit into my time poor day. The moments that I’ve missed, the gifts (not in physical terms) and insight from my children, the explanations, the smiles, the giggles, the connection I’ve not received/made and most importantly they’ve learned that we have a finite amount of time in our day to discover what is their life at that point in time. To them, in that moment they are sharing with you what is important in their world, what it’s made up of and we totally either miss or dismiss it offhandedly. They are inviting us into their world and we are too busy to even take more than a peep in, we are missing out ann they are bing shortchanged. Remembering their worlds are so very little just like them, so these little things are actually big bloody deals. They won’t be little forever and these are moments that we can never, will never get back. But its ok right, because that’s what they/we are used to? They will also be the moments we hold closest to our hearts as they grow, leave the nest and we meet our final days here on earth. Did I mention I feel physically ill?
When was the last time (with or without child, it doesn’t matter) you’ve watched a sun rise/set, stopped and smelt the floral scent in the spring air, enjoyed just being in the moment and absorbing what’s going on around you, without distraction? Totally 100% in the moment? I’ll wager it’s been a long time for all of us. When did we stop appreciating life and start just plodding through it? When did we decide that life had to start being a race against the clock?
There is nothing wrong with ambition, for striving for a dream or working towards a goal. Nothing at all. I just wonder when we’ve taken those steps back and realise what we are actually missing if a lot of the time it’s worth the cost? Maybe for some it is, maybe for others it’s not but I really think it’s time as individuals we took a long hard look at our life and wondered where did the actual REALLY living go? Do we ever do a cost/benefit analysis and factor these intrinsic things in or is it all external?
I read recently somewhere, and forgive me because I for the life of me can’t remember where. While we are waiting for our real lives to begin, we fail to see that this is life. We are forever looking towards a brighter future, a future that is not even promised to us but waiting for something to happen, while missing everything in the now. What we don’t recognise is that “the now” IS life. It’s what ewe are waiting for, we just are looking right though it.
What you might ask yourself made me have this gut wrenching epiphany today? It was one simple picture drawn by Master 3. That was all it took for me to realise life isn’t something that just happens that we are waiting for, life is a series of moments that have meaning that are strung together. It’s seeing, capturing and appreciating those moments that make life and nothing more.
Today THIS is what made me stop and think. I’m having this framed, not because it’s a masterpiece or because I think Master 3 is going to be a famous painter but because THIS was my wake up call, my moment of realisation that this IS what life’s about.
So to all my readers, while insomnia might suck ass, this realisation sucked ass even harder. (an yeah yeah grammar, spelling, editing blah blah blah it’s 2;30am deal with it)