Sunday, January 20, 2013

"There's More to Life Than Being Happy"

Recently, I stumbled on this excellent article "There's More to Life Than Being Happy" at a reflective moment. I have not read Frankl's book as yet, but that is something that I shall soon remedy.

Even without the benefit of having read the book I feel I can relate to Frankl's assertion. I am "of a certain age", a time in life where one is "mature" and "experienced" yet still en compos mentis (for now). I have seen much success in life - and much failure. When I speak of "success" and "failure" I do not speak of financial or material outcomes.

I think the first rule of "meaning" is remaining alive. I have been to the burial ceremonies of so many friends and acquaintances that died young while "pursuing happiness" - sex, alcohol, food, drugs, sports cars, et al - that I have lost count. The staying alive part might seem obvious, reading or writing this at our leisure here on a Sunday morning but it must not have seemed so obvious to the Dearly Departed when they were doing whatever it was that they were doing to become Departed.

Just take a look around! Lots of angry and hostile people in traffic, in line at the airport, on Facebook. Are "we" more angry than we used to be? Sure seems that way. Could it be our loss of purpose? While I can't be sure, that seems to be the case, too. And that makes perfect sense (to me, in any event).

I can't seem to find much in the media that does not relate to politics and the economy. Oh, there's still the sports section and/or the entertainment section I guess... but since I am not really much of a sports fan and would rather beat my toes off with a hammer than watch TV I don't see much else (no doubt a result of my self-limiting behavior). Of course, I see it as anger/hate/resentment stirred up to elicit a political response, but I see something else, too. I see a system that conspires to convince people to chase material advantages that are not possible to gain - and convinces people to give up marriage, children, family to pursue that which cannot be had.

The educational system, corporatism, Feminism's war on children and family, FICA and property taxes,  and the reality of Life's seasons have conspired to leave so many of my contemporaries broke, childless,  single, separated from the corporate cocoon, and now 50+. I personally know dozens of former Feminist warriors (their counterparts, the underachieving alcohol/drug infused males of their age have long since gone to ground - it was their funerals I mentioned above) that are now in this very, very uncomfortable position.

What was the purpose of their lives? To end their family's line? That's what happened. Generations of ancestors before them survived ocean crossings, wars, childbirth, disease and pestilence, and all of their efforts to survive and pass on their genes, family history, and purpose in life could not survive the influence of Gloria Steinem & Co., Goldman Sachs, and the perceived need for Health Insurance and an oversized, 4 bedroom home devoid of children. Go figure.

There are some tremendous advantages to a long life (that is, besides the obvious), especially if you can overcome the hypocrisy of age. If you have lived this long, you were either lucky or you overcame the risks that come with the arrogance of youth. I roll my eyes with exasperation every time some sanctimonious blowhard steps up to a microphone, Tweet, or Web rant. I know the truth. Every one of us has a story that would make Caligula blush or make Keith Richards appear temperate - or are pissed off that they didn't. Personally, lets just say I lived large and leave it at. But most of that did not give/bring me the purpose that helped me to this long, prosperous, and fecund life experience I was lucky enough to pull down.

But I digress...

There are a number of entrenched and powerful interests that desperately need to skew your personal purpose compass. Corporations, municipal employee unions pensions, governments from local to federal, and various political interests are out to leave us broke, childless, and dependent - with all of that resultant anger you are witnessing around you. Just listen to the conversation within the American Body Politic. A never ending discussion about the economy and jobs. Not a word about the Freedoms and Rights of man. Just a never ending stream of insults and invective.

Where is the purpose in that?

1 comment:

tweell said...

Ah, an easy question. I have cheated, using a book written from the words of Brother Lawrence, a soldier turned monk in the 1600's: 'The Practice of the Presence of God'.

"God requires no great matters of us: a little remembrance of Him from time to time; a little adoration; sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of.