Life or Something Like It…

Posted: May 23, 2008 in Philosophy

Life is the great struggle. From the time we are born until the time we are destined to die, this living experience, the Great Game is one long (or sometimes short) push/pull to the end. Sure, there are brief respites, breaks, and pauses, but they are never enduring. It is like a mountain climber scaling a challenging rock face, creeping from hand-hold to hand-hold until finding a suitable ledge to rest on, and this repose lasting only long enough to gather strength for the next great climb upward. For that is the direction that everyone struggles to move through life: upwards.

This pattern is self-evident throughout nature. Seeds must endure the hardships of winter, sometimes lying dormant for years before they germinate, defying gravity with their slow march towards the sunlight. Chicks must naturally beak their way out of the eggshells that they are entombed in to earn their place in the grand “pecking” order. River fish make the exhaustive swim upstream in order to spawn, proving their will to live and to live on through the succession of their offspring. Call it “survival of the fittest,” or evolution, or competitive spirit, whatever the case, we all want to be on top.

The problem is that we think that we want to always remain on top. Think about it. How boring, how predictable life would be if we had no challenges to take us to the next level. What if we had all of the answers before us in nice little pre-fabricated constructs, so that we would never have to think or ponder? If this were the case, why even go through the motions of life, dance the dance, experiencing only a wholly conventional life?

This is the essence of why we enter into life: to experience the pain with the pleasure, the loss as well as the gain, the unpredictable exhilaration that comes from this great struggle.

Life shouldn’t be all about suffering either. If you can imagine life as a series of waves, some crashing, some gently lapping, waxing and waning with the pull of the tides. Waves have crests and troughs. You can’t have one without the other. They must co-exist to exist at all. If you are surfing these waves, there will be times when you fall beneath the water and have to pick yourself up again. There will also be times when you are carried triumphantly atop the wave, and you can enjoy the thrill of the ride. It is by experiencing the times of “without” that we learn to truly appreciate the times of abundance. In the meantime, enjoy the interims of peace and triumph amidst the demanding effort that living requires, and don’t forget to relish the struggle.

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