Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Existential Joy of Living

 I will start by claiming that humans living in the Western and so-called “developed world” have been sold an erroneous bunch of goods. By that I mean that from the capitalist-oriented perspective, the many aspects of an individual life have been neatly bundled into a very concise and complete package. The primary elements of this package clearly specify that if one adopts the appropriate attitudes and addresses life in the prescribed and appropriate manner, living comes with a precise guarantee of security, safety, fun, happiness, and especially prosperity. This model for living within the boundaries of a consumer-based existence is essentially delusional. In my estimation, this is all nonsense.

At birth, regardless of one’s country of origin, color of skin, gender, culture, economic class, there are absolutely no guarantees. It is true that throughout the world, regardless of nation, humans belong to two distinct classes – the small minority of the privileged that have accumulated exorbitant wealth and power and the rest of humanity subject to the priorities and whims of the privileged who have attained a level of influence that gives them enormous authority. This delineation of classes has been a dominant force in the history of civilization. Unless one proposes that humans will miraculously undergo profound transformation, this organizational model will persist into the future until the species undermines its own viability and moves backwards towards a more primal existence.

In spite of this persistent and delusional representation of reality that surrounds us, no one is immune from the vagaries and vicissitudes of life and death’s untimely arrival. No one can escape the depth and scope of human feelings and emotions. No one can avoid the consequences of the forward movement of history that is the repository of the collective choices humanity has made over time.

In many ways, the unfettered accumulation of wealth introduces a constant source of distraction and often negates a deep-felt appreciation of existence. In my mind, it is no small tragedy to live one’s life deadened to the wondrous presence of the natural and human worlds that we are such an integral part of. It is a waste of individual existence, to move through life bound and constrained by a subservience to delusional thinking.

As individuals, it is within our power to free ourselves of such limitations and open ourselves up to the existential joy of living – a fundamental appreciation of our intrinsic connectedness to the totality of all that surrounds us. In this way, we can appreciate the fragile, wondrous, compelling, ever-interesting and finite nature of existence within the matrix of an amazing universe. In this way, we can come to embrace our own mortality.

Beyond the delusional fantasies that have been fashioned and refined over the millennia of human civilization, the inescapable truth is that each of us has one turn at sentient existence. It is up to each of us to decide how to experience our individual journey before our stay is irrevocably terminated. We may protest, but reality is, in fact, larger than us all.

There is a powerful urge for humans to look with pity and with a sympathetic eye upon those who seemed to have suffered a “cruelty of fate” - overcome by a grievous illness or cataclysmic accident obviously victim of circumstances beyond their control. This response may seem altruistic, but the internal motivation of such an outlook is decidedly more complex than it would seem. In my judgment, this response also satisfies the need to uplift once own life; the first-hand experience of someone’s suffering is a potent reminder that there is no fairness in life and that we are all prone and subject to calamities of all kinds. It is a stark representation of the fragile nature of existence. Feeling pity also represents a distorted view of the experience of living. Even within the midst of profound suffering, each of us has the capacity to appreciate the joy of existence.

Of course, there may come a time for anyone to reach a point when the intensity of suffering may far outweigh the will to live; when living can no longer embrace an appreciation of being alive. As sentient beings we do have an intrinsic right over our own lives and should feel free to make a reasoned choice to end our earthly sojourn. That is the nature of true autonomy.

In conclusion, it is really up to me to fully appreciate and enjoy the precious and ephemeral moments that I have the good fortune to experience. After all, death will come soon enough.

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