The litmus test
“The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.”
― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
I've been awake since 4 am. It might have been earlier, but that was when I looked at my phone.
Never mind. I'm here, and to me at least, that's all that matters.
I'll cut to the chase.
We judge everything in life by a nominal value — our litmus test if you will — called happiness.
Mostly, or so it appears, it's about seeking and holding on to something that pleases us — however ephemeral.
Nothing wrong with that you say.
But, if my life is any barometer of this stab in the dark, it's a chimaera of epic proportion. Then again, what does that have to do with you? I mean, just because I wasn't able to find happiness in my work or the things I pursued is no test of anything, right!
Then again, when I look up from this damn computer and start to analyse the stories, the language and the lives of those people who've I known, connected with or have skimmed the outer echelons of my life, there's an abundance of angst, anger and frustration in never reaching the promised land.
If only we'd stop running long enough to question our assumptions, beliefs and the sense of lack in not having everything our way; namely, more of the good stuff and a lot less of the shit.
If this sounds artificial, almost petri-dish like, then that's only because we've been raised in a society that conditions us to follow a well-worn path. It's not that like for everyone, but there's not a lot of difference in the taste, smell and electricity of the dance.
What (again) am I really trying to say?
Question everything. Better still to live in the question as Rilke would have said. And I don't mean to suggest we unravel the happiness trope. You could but I don't think it will get you very far. At this stage in your life, I suspect you know that there's an inalienable essence of you that doesn't need much, if anything, to be happy. Or at least that's what it's like for me. I don't need stuff or even experiences to lift me to some exalted state. Instead, put me in nature and the reverie of the occasion is more than enough to allow true self to flourish with such abandon that I (whatever or whoever that is) feel like I'm living through some out-of-body experience.
One other thing. It's no accident that I've quoted Merton. In case it's not already clear, it's not the thing that causes us to suffer but our failure to accept it — even if we find it egregious. How does that slightly apocryphal saying go? What resists, persists. I know, it's hardly worthy of quotation but then again, when our backs are against the wall perhaps we ought to consider dropping our faux litmus test and instead to accept the moment as if we'd chosen it.
Blessings, Ju ❤️
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