Saturday, May 8, 2010
Hello, it's me
Today marks the anniversary of my birth. I am 28 years old (interesting note - my age is the mirror of the year I was born, '82). Many people tell me how much more put together I am than they were at my age. It's true. I'm smarter, sharper, and swifter than many from my generation. From where I began to where I ended up, it was a long journey. I should be proud of all I have accomplished.
And yet, I'm still not completely happy. There are times when I'm happy and times when I'm not, and the times when I'm not are as frequent and as severe as the times when I am. I know exactly what makes me unhappy, and I either lack the ability to change those things or am unwilling to sacrifice what makes me happy to remove the things that make me unhappy.
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
- Ecclesiastes 1:18
I feel I am a good judge of people, and I've noticed I am not alone in this regard, generally speaking. I see many, many citizens who should be happy and aren't. I see the things that bring them down. People's relationships, jobs, friends, and lives are unsatisfactory. On paper, you can find someone who should be floating above the clouds, and as you dig deeper, you see their misery. It could be one thing or many things, but there is always something that acts as an anchor to elation, chains which hold them down.
There are those who say that people have no right to be unhappy in our society of satellite television, portable mp3 players and internet capable cellular phones. There are people living in huts who are starving and dying of disease. Surely someone sitting on a leather chair in air conditioning digesting a moist piece of cake cannot complain? Well, comparatively speaking, the hut people are worse off. There is no argument against that. Nevertheless, there is no benefit to be made from that line of reasoning. It is intellectually misleading. The hut people are better off than someone being tortured in a North Korean prison camp, so should the hut people be happy with their lot? If they live in a situation that makes them unhappy, then they are unhappy, and that should be respected or recognized.
The technological wonders and modern comforts available to us should also not be used to disguise society's distress. That is a shallow, vapid, disaffected way to think. Granted, I am happy to have a roof over my head. I'm not stupid. I'm glad I don't have rats biting my feet and sewer leaking into my kitchen. But there has to be more than that. Once the basic needs are met, there are issues of the mind and the heart. We have to be fulfilled.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
- Ecclesiastes 2:11
Let us then find the fortunate man who has enough wealth to live comfortably for the remainder of his life, and who has known the rarest of gifts, love that is meaningful and warm and pure. His life should be perfect, yet how can anyone live in peace with the suffering of those around them? Agony. Misery. Depression. Famine. Starvation. Poverty. Disease. War.
I wish I had millions of dollars. Not for myself. I could live off of $500,000 easily for the rest of my days. I don't need a yacht the size of an apartment building. I don't need a private jet. But if I was a millionaire, I would pour the money into projects and programs that help the needy. Not out of guilt, but out of conscience. And it would still never be enough. It is never enough.
Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.
And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
But better than both
is he who has not yet been,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-3
Will I ever rid myself of my little sessions of depression? I doubt it. It's not caused by any chemical imbalance. It's not like I can take a pill and erase reality. I see the world as it is and I am disheartened. I look at myself and see all I could be but am not, all I should have been and had not, and all I should be but will not, and it does not lift my spirits.
Of course, it is my birthday, so I'm not going to wallow in melancholy today. I'm going to go out and have some fun. If I don't at least find the good things in life, then I'm truly fucked.
Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. - Ecclesiastes 7:3