Death, pain and nausea

It can't be denied: when we think about life as a whole, we have to look some nasty truths in the face. (And despite the ugly grin we encounter, we shouldn't shrink from doing so.) Pain and suffering can befall us at any moment, and even without them, constraints and restrictions are placed on us wherever we go, whatever we do; the never-ending grind of everyday work and the numbing routine of our many duties can create a feeling of nausea; finally, there is the certainty that death will come (we don't even know when and how) and rob us of all the things we have vainly sought, all the fame and money, our reputation and good looks. (Death, in another instance, can also take away those who we love.)

When confronting the unfavorable elements of our lives, there is always a risk of doing too much, and a danger of doing too little. When future trouble looms, for instance: will you simply acknowledge the possibility, but then go on unimpressed? Or will you spend endless moments in fearful anticipation? There is no point, of course, in worrying about something that hasn't happened yet (provided that you do not have an effective means for preventing it from happening). But one thing is not to worry, another is having the strength not to repress all thought of it, not to try and convince yourself that this particular thing won't happen to you after all.

And again, does it seem a good idea to you simply to ignore the fact that you'll have to die, at some time? Do you believe it wise to keep up the illusion that you still have an infinite, or at least a very long time before you? Such an attitude will only provide you with excuses for postponing what you'd better start doing at once: getting your life on the best track that you can think of, with as much reflection as you can put into it, right now. Of course, don't paralyze yourself either; don't let the fact that your days are running out prevent you from making good use of them. (It's overdoing it by far to make it your every third thought.) However late in your life you've started the serious business of reflection, it's never too late to change yourself.

It's an equally important quality of character to endure life as it is. To accept reality takes courage, especially at times when reality is gray and monotonous. (There will be other times, when the seas of life are full of excitement and surprise — but how could it possibly be always like that?) It's also a responsibility. The world is not a show, and there is no program-maker, charged with entertaining you. It's not a mere spectacle for you to be consumed. It's a place where you have a part to play, a job to do, a helping hand to offer. If you don't make it worthwhile, nobody will do it for you; but once you've started, you will be surprised how much help you suddenly receive, and how often your efforts are appreciated.

Even at parties, if that analogy helps, the worst guests are of that bad-tempered variety who think they are entitled to being entertained, and see it as the host's fault if they don't enjoy themselves. They're not funny, they're not interesting, and they're no good party citizens. Consider carefully whether you really want to play the equivalent role for all the people in your life. If you are bored with reality, you ought to check your attitude; there's nothing wrong with the world, but quite possibly with your expectations. Take care.
Copyright © 2007-2012 by Leif Frenzel. All rights reserved.