Some things crystallized while talking to Sarah this morning – what I’d like to call “The Philosophy of E.” I’ve spent a lot of time thinking these days – these two weeks off work – all the hours of the sleepless nights, the time spent alone, the time spending in longing and reading and inquiry. I guess my worldview at this point boils down to two basic tenets:
1. We’re here for such a brief time – our lives are so tenuous – why the fuck not do the things that bring joy?
2. No matter the decisions you make, no matter the course your life takes, that is the way it was meant to be and it couldn’t be any other way.
The first one is pretty self explanatory – our lives are so short; why waste time doing things that don’t make you happy? Or that don’t keep you happy? Obviously we all have to do things that suck – bills have to be paid, toilets have to be cleaned – but those are necessary evils on the path to what brings joy, what brings meaning. The second is a bit more complicated.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe in both predestination and free will. I believe – I know – that the choices we make in life determine who we are. I also know that who we are is determined by all sorts of factors we can’t control – our parents, our upbringing, our fragile bodies, our “natural selection” or predilections. And if the last two weeks have taught me anything, it’s that worrying about how life might be different had certain choices been different is a futile thing. It will drive you mad. Things are the way they are for a reason. I firmly believe that. The choices we make might not make sense – they might be difficult and intensely painful – but they are made for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is – I think we don’t know a lot of the time, which is why life is so precious, so enigmatic, so full of doubt and questioning and joy.
We are here – in life, on this Earth – for a reason – for some brief, undetermined amount of time – and then we’re gone. I don’t know why we’re here. I don’t know the meaning or the measure of my life. All I know is that I want my life to have meaning. I want joy. I want peace. I want the peaks of ecstasy and the depths of despair – and have had both in these two weeks. I want life at its fullest, its richest, its most powerful. And I know – in my heart, in my soul, in the fundamental parts of me that I can trust beyond my reason or my intellect – that I will have these things, that I am in the process of having these things. And it can’t be any different. I may not understand the path I have chosen – but I know it is the only place I could be. And if things are meant to be different, they will be. I have firm confidence in that.
In The Hours, Clarissa relates a story about her youth, how she walked out one day and thought “This is the beginning of happiness.” In her middle age, relating the story to her daughter, she realized that it wasn’t the beginning of happiness, it was happiness. I think that is at the heart of what I’m thinking and feeling and trying to express – that awareness of purpose, of happiness – of celebrating the moment without over-thinking or worrying about how it could or might or should be different. I think just being is enough.